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Deadly Blast Hits Afghan Mosque During Memorial Service For Taliban Official  

Badakhshan province, Afghanistan

A bomb blast ripped through a mosque in Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan province during a memorial ceremony Thursday for the Taliban provincial deputy governor who was assassinated in an Islamic State group attack this week.

The explosion in the provincial capital of Faizabad killed at least 11 worshipers and wounded more than 30 others, the Taliban-led Afghan interior ministry said on Twitter. Moazuddin Ahmadi, the head of the area information office, told VOA by phone that a former Taliban police chief of the nearby northern Baghlan province was also among the dead.

Witnesses reported that the powerful blast had inflicted many casualties on the worshipers inside the packed mosque, fearing a much higher death toll.

A mainstream Afghan news channel, TOLO news, reported that at least 15 bodies and about 50 wounded were brought to the main hospital in Faizabad.

On Tuesday, Badakhshan's deputy governor, Molvi Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi, was being driven to work in Faizabad when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into his vehicle. The ensuing blast killed Ahmadi and his driver, while 10 people were injured.

The Islamic State group claimed the car bomb attack was carried out by its Afghan affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan. The mountainous Afghan province borders China, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Several top Taliban leaders have been killed in IS Khorasan-claimed attacks since the hardline group retook control of Afghanistan nearly two years ago.

A car bombing last December, claimed by IS Khorasan, killed the Taliban police chief of Badakhshan.

In March, a suicide bomber assassinated the governor of northern Balkh province, Mohammad Dawood Muzammil. IS Khorasan took credit for killing one of the most senior Taliban leaders.

The Taliban are sworn enemies of IS Khorasan and have routinely conducted operations against its hideouts in Afghanistan, killing high-profile operatives of the terror group.

Islamic State launched its operations in the conflict-torn South Asian nation in 2015 from bases in eastern Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. It has since expanded the violence to other parts of Afghanistan.