Afghanistan mosque blast kills 18, including top cleric

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Mawlawi Mujeeb Rahman Ansari, a prominent Islamic cleric and imam of Guzargah mosque in Herat province, was killed in a blast occurring inside the mosque on Friday.

The blast happened during the Friday prayers inside the mosque and was due to a suicide attack, local officials said.

Herat Governor’s spokesman, Hamidullah Mutawakil, said that the suicide bomber exploded himself while Ansari was entering the mosque.

At least 18 people were killed, including Mawlawi Mujeeb Rahman Ansari, and 23 others were wounded in the blast.

The dead included his brother, Habib Rahman Ansari. There are no details about the number of casualties but local people said that many people were killed and wounded in the blast.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Mahmood Shah Rasuli, a spokesman for the Herat security department, said those wounded from the blast have been evacuated to the provincial hospital.

“Mujeeb Rahman Ansari was an elite cleric of the country. He was heading from the masque and when he arrived at the mosque, a suicide attacker exploded himself while kissing his hand (Ansari),” he said.

The residents meanwhile expressed alarm over the blast. “Such worries existed for the past 20 years. We thought it was secure now and we have peace and the people were happy but these problems have started again,” said Naseer Ahmad, a resident of Herat.

The attack faced the reaction of the Islamic Emirate and other top Afghan politicians.

Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Twitter expressed sorrow over the death of Ansari and said that the perpetrators of the blast would be held accountable.

Former President Hamid Karzai on Twitter condemned the blast, saying it is against human and Islamic values.

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