At least three people killed and 15 others wounded after an explosion has hit a mosque in the Spin Ghar area of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan during Friday prayers, according to residents and Taliban officials.
A doctor at the local hospital told AFP news agency that at least three people have been killed, Al Jazeera reported without independently verifying the toll.
One of the witnesses, whose uncle was injured in the attack, told Al Jazeera he saw at least 15 injured bodies, including the Imam, who was leading the prayer. He said the explosion took place near where the Imam himself was standing in the crowded mosque.
Earlier, Qari Hanif, the government spokesman for Nangarhar Province, confirmed the blast with The Associated Press news agency.
Atal Shinwari, a resident of the area, told the Reuters news agency the blast occurred at about 1:30pm local time (09:00 GMT) when explosives apparently located in the interior of the mosque detonated.
Walli Mohammed, a local elder and activist, told AFP the bomb appeared to have been hidden in a loudspeaker. When the speaker was switched on to sound the azan – the call to begin the prayer – the device detonated, he said.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
However Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a series of bloody attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s return to power in August.
At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 injured in an ISIL attack on a military hospital in Kabul in early November.
More than 120 people have been killed in attacks claimed by ISIL earlier this year on two mosques popular with the ethnic minority Hazara community.
The security challenge comes as the United Nations has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with more than half the country facing “acute” food shortages.
Around 3.2 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Afghanistan by the end of this year, with 1 million of them at risk of dying as temperatures drop, a World Health Organization spokesperson said on Friday.