Hats are seen inside a mosque after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 24, 2019.
Hats are seen inside a mosque after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 24, 2019.

ISLAMABAD - Afghan officials say a bomb blast ripped through a crowded Kabul mosque during Friday prayers, killing a prominent pro-government cleric along with another worshipper. Separately, a roadside bomb attack injured four Romanian soldiers in southern Kandahar province.

The Interior Ministry and residents in the Afghan capital reported that Mawlavi Samiullah Rayhan, the slain cleric, was leading the afternoon prayers when the explosion occurred.

The attack injured at least 16 people. Some of them were reported to be in "critical condition."

FILE - Afghan cleric Mawlavi Samiullah Rayhan, cen
FILE - Afghan cleric Mawlavi Samiullah Rayhan, center, was killed in a mosque bombing in Kabul, May 24, 2019. (Undated photo courtesy of TOLO TV)

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack, which officials said appeared to have been aimed at Rayhan. Officials accused the Taliban of plotting the attack, but a spokesman for the insurgent group denied its involvement.

The 36-year-old cleric was a staunch supporter of the Afghan government and national security forces battling Taliban insurgents. Rayhan also was the host of a daily religious television show and was highly critical of the Taliban for orchestrating suicide bombings in violation of Islamic teachings. 

Afghan civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict in the country, which has suffered through years of hostilities.

Bomb hits military convoy

Meanwhile, Romania's Defense Ministry confirmed that five of its soldiers were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their combat vehicle Friday in Kandahar.

Romanian state media quoted a ministry statement as saying the troops were "conscious and in stable condition." It added that the soldiers were part of a joint patrol mission with U.S. military in the area.

The Taliban took responsibility for the bombing near the Kandahar airfield, claiming the improvised explosive device blew up the Romanian armored personnel carrier and killed "invaders" on board, referring to U.S.-led foreign military forces in Afghanistan. The insurgents' claims are often inflated.

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