ISLAMABAD - Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Monday’s suicide bombing of a Shi'ite mosque in the Afghan capital that killed at least 32 people and wounded more than 80 others.
The bomber entered the crowded Baqir ul Olum Mosque in Kabul during a religious ceremony and detonated the explosives strapped to his body among the worshipers.
General Faridoon Obaidi, head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department, told reporters all the victims were civilians.
A brief statement issued by IS's media wing said it was behind the bloodshed.
President Ashraf Ghani denounced the bombing as “unforgivable” and an act of enemies of Afghanistan aimed at dividing Afghan ethnicities.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah condemned the attack, saying it targeted “innocent civilians - including children - in a holy place. It is a war crime and an act against Islam.”
A Taliban spokesman in a brief statement sent to reporters denied involved in the bombing, saying the Taliban had nothing to do with it.
The United States denounced the mosque bombing as a “senseless and cowardly act” and extended its condolences to the families of the victims.
This attack is another demonstration of contempt for religious tolerance and communal harmony by the enemies of peace and progress in Afghanistan, said a U.S. embassy statement in Kabul.
Separately, the acting head of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Pernille Kardel, said the “appalling attack on worshipers is an atrocity.”
“UNAMA expresses its revulsion at this latest effort by extremists to stoke sectarian violence in Afghanistan,” added Kardel.
Amnesty International, while reacting to what it described as "a horrific and deliberate attack on civilians,” called for Afghan authorities to immediately investigate the crime to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"They have a duty to take effective measures to protect Shia Muslims from attacks and end impunity for previous abuses against the Shia community," the London-based human rights defender said in a statement.
IS has recently stepped up attacks on Shi'ite worship places and gatherings in Afghanistan.
On October 11, two IS attackers wearing police uniforms and armed with grenades and machine guns stormed Kabul’s Kart-e Sakhi shrine and opened fire on Shi'ite mourners, killing 19 of them.
The Middle Eastern-based terrorist group in July of this year attacked a peaceful demonstration in Kabul in which more than 80 people, mostly members of the Shi'ite Hazara community, were killed while many more were wounded.