The blast at the Khalifa Sahib mosque, located in the Darulaman area in the west of the city, is the latest in a series of attacks on civilian targets in the capital and provinces.
The explosion tore through the mosque, damaging the roof, which caved in on worshippers, the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) in the country said, citing initial reports.
Casualties likely higher
Local hospitals reported far higher casualty figures, with dozens said to be killed and injured, including many children.
A hospital ran by the non-governmental organization EMERGENCY, alone received more than 20 victims, two of whom were dead on arrival.
Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, issued a statement condemning the “heinous” attack.
“Today’s blast, which comes on the last Friday of the holy week of Ramadan, is yet another painful blow to the people of Afghanistan who continue to be exposed to unremitting insecurity and violence,” he said.
“It is unconscionable for civilians to be targeted indiscriminately as they go about their daily business, gathering for prayers, going to school or the market, or on their way to work.”
On Thursday, at least nine people were killed, and 15 wounded, in separate blasts on two minibuses in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.
Mr. Alakbarov reiterated that directing attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including mosques, is strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law.
Total disregard for ‘religious sanctity’
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the explosion on Friday followed a spate of recent deadly attacks in Kabul, Kunduz and Mazar-e-Sharif, which appear to have specifically targeted the Hazara, Shia and Sufi minority communities.
Two UN staff members and their families, who were inside the mosque at the time of the blast, were directly affected.
“Today’s attack, carried out on the last Friday of the Holy month of Ramadan and on the eve of the Eid-ul-Fitr, totally disregards human lives and religious sanctity. No words are strong enough to condemn this despicable act, targeting a place of worship, as Muslims across Afghanistan prepare to celebrate the Eid,” said Mette Knudsen, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“Recent attacks against civilians, targeting ethnic and religious minorities, represent a disturbing trend in Afghanistan. These violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws must end immediately.”