At least 29 killed in Afghan Shia mosque attack
A suicide bomber and a gunman killed at least 29 people and wounded 63 at a packed Shia mosque in Afghanistan's main western city of Herat on Tuesday, the latest attack to highlight the country's deteriorating security situation.
The assault on the Jawadya mosque in Herat, which is close to Afghanistan's border with Iran, came a day after the Islamic State group claimed a deadly attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul.
The Herat attack was the latest in a series of assaults on Afghanistan's minority Shia population.
"The death toll has risen to 29 killed and 63 wounded. Some wounded are in a critical condition so the toll may go up," hospital spokesman Rafeeq Shirzai told AFP.
Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walizada said the assault happened around 8:00 pm when "a terrorist attack was carried out on a mosque in the third security district of Herat city".
"Based on our initial information two terrorists were involved, one of them wearing a suicide vest who detonated himself while the second one was armed with a rifle. They are both dead," he added.
A reporter for AFP said he had seen a number of bodies brought out of the mosque, leading to fears of a heavy death toll.
He reported seeing a body torn to pieces at the entrance, possibly that of the attacker, while others were lying in pools of blood inside, some still crying and moving.
Photos posted on social media showed large crowds had gathered at the hospital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but IS has been targeting Shia crowds and mosques in Afghanistan for around a year.
The Taliban has specifically denied that it was involved.
The attack comes a day after an assault on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul, which was claimed by IS, killed two people.
IS has been expanding its footprint in eastern Afghanistan and has recently claimed responsibility for several devastating attacks in the capital.