Pro-Taliban cleric among 18 dead in Afghanistan mosque blast

KABUL: An explosion outside a mosque in the western Afghan city of Herat on Friday killed at least 18 people, including a prominent pro-Taliban cleric in what authorities say an attack.
“18 people were killed and 23 injured,” a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior Abdul Nafi Takor told Reuters.
Police spokesman Herat Mahmood Rasoli say Mujib Rahman Ansari – a pro-Taliban cleric – was among those killed along with some of his guards and civilians as they approached the mosque for Friday prayers.
Al Jazeera Media Network, citing unnamed sources, said 28 people were killed and 45 injured.
The Talibanspokesperson of Zabiullah Mujahidin a Tweet expressing “deep condolences” over Ansari’s death and said his attackers would be punished.
Mujib Rahman Ansari spoke out strongly in defense of the Taliban at a large meeting of thousands of scholars and elders organized by the group in late June, condemning anyone who opposes their government.
The Taliban say they have improved security in the country since taking power about a year ago, but there have been several explosions in recent months, some targeting busy mosques in the prayer meeting. The United Nation has raised concerns about a growing number of attacks and several explosions have been claimed by a local branch of the Islamic State.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s explosion.

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