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Islamic StateThe TalibanAfghanistan

Up to 50 Killed in Bombing of Khalifa Sahib Mosque, Kabul

The leader of Kabul’s Khalifa Sahib Mosque says more than 50 worshippers were killed and scores injured in the explosion on Friday 29th April. Official reports record ten deaths and 15 injuries, but numbers are likely much higher.  

The explosion destroyed the roof of the mosque, which caved in on the worshippers inside. The attack targeted devotees gathering in the afternoon for Friday prayers, a congregation called Zikr. This Sufi tradition is a ceremonial prayer or litany, performed in remembrance and adoration of Allah. While no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, Islamic State (IS) has a long history of opposition to Sufi practices and traditions, which it perceives as polytheistic and heretical.  The group diverges from Al Qaeda’s policies in its willingness to use violence against other Muslims, and IS have frequently targeted Shia Muslims and Sufi Muslims in their attacks. 

This attack is the latest in a wave of bombings throughout Afghanistan in April 2022, many particularly concentrated in the holy month of Ramadam. 

  • On April 28th, nine civilians were killed and 13 injured in an explosion in Mazar-i-Sharif
  • On April 24th, two officials were killed, five were injured, and three civilians were also injured in an explosion in Badakhshan
  • On April 22th, 33 civilians were killed and 43 injured in an explosion in Kunduz
  • On April 20th, three civilians were injured in a roadside explosion in Kabul
  • On April 20th, four civilians were killed 18 injured by a bicycle bomb in Kunduz
  • On April 20th, 12 civilians were killed and 58 injured in an explosion in a Mazar-i-Sharif mosque
  • On April 19th, 6 civilians were killed and 17 injured in an IED explosion outside a school in Kabul
  • On April 6th, six civilians were injured in a grenade attack on a Kabul mosque
  • On April 3rd, one civilian was killed and ten injured in a grenade explosion in Kabul
  • On April 1st, two civilians were killed and eight injured in a car bomb in Herat

Since 2010, AOAV has recorded 89 incidents of explosive violence in places of worship in Afghanistan, 26% (23) of which have taken place in Kabul, and 16% (14) in Nangarhar. Across these 89 incidents, AOAV has recorded 3, 162 civilian casualties (1, 026 killed and 2, 136 injured). Of the 32, 726 civilian casualties recorded in Afghanistan by English language media since 2010, 10% have been caused by explosive violence in places of worship. Places of worship are the fourth highest location for civilian casualties since 2010, after roads (5, 028), urban residential (4, 080), and public buildings (3, 235).

In 2022, AOAV has recorded six incidents of explosive violence in places of worship in Afghanistan so far. Across these six incidents, AOAV has recorded 220 civilian casualties (59 killed and 161 injured), in Kunduz (76 civilian casualties), Balkh (70), Kabul (36), Paktia (13), and Badghis (15). Of the 431 civilian casualties recorded in Afghanistan by English language media in 2022 so far, 51% have been caused by explosive violence in places of worship. Places of worship are the location with the highest civilian casualty count in Afghanistan in 2022 so far.

In total, AOAV has recorded 635 incidents of explosive violence in places of worship since 2010, and English language media sources have reported 19, 404 civilian casualties from these incidents (5, 822 killed and 13, 582 injured).