KABUL, Afghanistan — Hundreds of villagers attended the funerals held Saturday in eastern Afghanistan for the victims of a deadly bomb that killed 66 people during prayers at a local mosque.
Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said that the explosion also wounded 36 people when it went off as dozens of people gathered for Friday prayers in the village of Jodari.
He said it was not immediately clear if the mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber or by some other type of bombing.
He said the “latest” figure for the death toll was 66. He added that ten wounded were so far discharged from hospital after treatment.
Villagers from the surrounding Haskamena district said that there were more than one hundred worshippers at the time of the bombing in the mosque.
Gulab Shinwari, a villager, said that when he reached the site of the blast with other locals, they found “a heartbreaking scene.”
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially Nangarhar province.
However, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman in a statement condemned the attack in Nangarhar and called it a serious crime.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly” condemned the attack and said those responsible must be held accountable, his office’s spokesman said.
Amnesty International’s deputy South Asia director, Omar Waraich, said the attack “demands the world’s attention.”
“Flagrant violations of international humanitarian law such as deliberate targeting of civilians are not something anyone should get used to or learn to ignore,” he said.
The violence comes just after a United Nations report said that Afghan civilians are dying in record numbers in the country’s increasingly brutal war, noting that more civilians died in July than in any previous one-month period since the U.N. began keeping statistics.
“Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population, including through a review of conduct during combat operations,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
The report said that pro-government forces caused 2,348 civilian casualties, including 1,149 killed and 1,199 wounded, a 26% increase from the same period in 2018.
The report said 2,563 civilians were killed and 5,676 were wounded in the first nine months of this year. Insurgents were responsible for 62%. July to September were the deadliest months so far this year.
Khan Mohammad another villager said that on the day of the incident there were around 100 to 110 worshippers in the mosque, of which more than 70 were martyred and more than 30 others were wounded.