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Afghan mosque attack ‘mastermind’ arrested

KABUL (AFP) – Taleban forces have arrested a suspected Islamic State (IS) militant who planned a bomb attack that killed at least 12 worshippers at a mosque in Afghanistan, police said yesterday.

IS claimed the bomb blast that tore through the Seh Dokan mosque during midday prayers in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Thursday. The attack also wounded 58 people.

Balkh province’s police spokesman Asif Waziri said Abdul Hamid Sangaryar was a key operative of IS.

“He was the mastermind of yesterday’s attack on the mosque,” Waziri told AFP. The interior ministry also reported the arrest of Sangaryar, an Afghan national. “He played a key role in several attacks in the past and had repeatedly managed to escape, but this time we arrested him in a special operation,” Waziri said.

IS also claimed a separate bomb attack in another northern city of Kunduz on Thursday that killed four people and wounded 18 people.

The group has taken responsibility for deadly attacks in Afghanistan, often against Shiite targets, even as the number of bombings have fallen since the Taleban seized power in August last year.

Shiite Afghans are mostly from the ethnic Hazara community and make up between 10 and 20 per cent of the country’s 38 million people. They have long been the target of the IS, who consider them heretics. Earlier this week, at least six people were killed in twin blasts that hit a boys’ school in a Shiite neighbourhood of Kabul. No group has so far claimed that attack.

Taleban officials insist their forces have defeated IS, but analysts said the militant group is a key security challenge.

Taleban fighters in armoured vehicles travel down Herat. PHOTO: AFP