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Last Updated Saturday January 20 2018 03:00 AM IST

12 killed as suicide bomber attacks mosque in Kabul

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Suicide bomber attacks mosque in Kabul, casualties feared Representational image

Kabul: Twelve people were killed in an hours-long suicide bomb and gun attack on a Shiite mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Friday, an official said.

"We have 10 civilians martyred and over 40 wounded. One police and one special forces member were also killed," Najib Danish, deputy interior ministry spokesman, told AFP, adding that the attack was over.

Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid told AFP a suicide bomber "detonated himself inside the mosque", adding that there were casualties but he could not confirm how many.

The interior ministry confirmed a "terrorist attack" had taken place while residents told AFP they could hear gunshots.

The attack occurred at a time when many Muslims would be attending Friday prayers, and raises fears of sectarian violence in the capital.

It also comes days after US president Donald Trump cleared the way for thousands more American troops to be deployed in the war-torn country.

Najib Danish, a deputy spokesman for the interior ministry, told TOLOnews that initial information suggested a suicide bomber detonated himself, while two or three other militants had entered the mosque and were exchanging fire with police.

"The bombers are running short of bullet rounds and they are using knives to stab worshippers," an eyewitness told AFP.

The assault underscores spiraling insecurity in Afghanistan as a resurgent Taliban steps up offensives across the country, while the Sunni Islamic State group, known for carrying out sectarian attacks, expands its Afghan footprint.

Last month dozens of people were killed and scores wounded after a Taliban-claimed car bomb struck a bus carrying government employees through a Shiite neighborhood in the capital.

Read more: Latest national news | Panchkula burning: 5 killed, rampant violence post rapist godman verdict

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