Suicide bombing at mosque in Afghanistan kills at least 29

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Afghan residents walk inside a damaged mosque after a suicide attack during Friday prayers in Gardez of Paktia province on August 3, 2018. (AFP)
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Security forces gather following a deadly attack including a suicide attack and gunbattles, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (AP)
Updated 03 August 2018
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Suicide bombing at mosque in Afghanistan kills at least 29

  • A suicide attack struck a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan Friday targeting worshippers during weekly prayers.
  • The attack comes as urban areas across Afghanistan have been rocked by an increasing number of attacks in recent months.

KABUL, Afghanistan: Two suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in eastern Afghanistan during Friday prayers, killing at least 29 people and wounding another 81, officials said.
Abdullah Asrat, spokesman for the governor of Paktia province, said the heavily armed attackers, disguised in the all-encompassing burkas worn by conservative Afghan women, opened fire on private security guards outside the mosque in the city of Gardez. Then they slipped inside and set off their explosives among around 100 worshippers.
Five of the seriously wounded were small children, he said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Daesh affiliate in Afghanistan has targeted Shiite worshippers in the past. The group has also warned Afghanistan’s minority Shiites that their houses of worship would be targeted.
Syed Sufi Gardezi, the most senior Shiite cleric in Gardez, put the death toll at 30. He described a scene of panic and distress outside the Imam-e-Zaman mosque as news of the explosion spread and relatives gathered.
Gardezi said the wounded were screaming for help and body parts of the dead were scattered throughout the single story mosque. The dead were all men and boys, he said.
Dr. Mohammad Wali Roshan, a physician at a local hospital, said some of the relatives, armed with sticks and guns, were furious at the lack of security and began beating people, even medical personnel who arrived to help the wounded.
“They were shouting that there was no security and screaming for their loved ones,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Gardezi blamed the Daesh affiliate. He said the Taliban have a strong presence in the area but have never attacked Shiites in the past and have never threatened them.
Both the Taliban and the Daesh group are made up of radical group who want to overthrow the Western-backed government and impose a harsh form of law. But they are fiercely divided over leadership, ideology and tactics, and have clashed on a number of occasions. Daesh views Shiites as apostates deserving of death.
In the last two years, Daesh has attacked 24 Shiite cultural centers, mosques and schools, said Mohammad Jawad Ghawary, a member of the Shiite cleric council.
“In Afghanistan they are the biggest threat for Shiites,” he said. He called on the Afghan government and the international community to do more to protect Shiites.


No indication North Korea nuclear activities stopped: UN watchdog

Updated 56 min 17 sec ago
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No indication North Korea nuclear activities stopped: UN watchdog

  • ‘The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern’
  • The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery

VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said it had not seen any indication that nuclear activities in North Korea have stopped despite its pledges to denuclearize.
“The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern,” said a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), referring to North Korea’s official name.
The report, published late Monday, by the director general of Yukiya Amano is to be submitted to an IAEA board meeting in September.
In 2009 Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear site and has since refused to allow IAEA inspections on its territory.
The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery, it said.
“As the Agency remains unable to carry out verification activities in the DPRK, its knowledge of the DPRK’s nuclear program is limited and, as further nuclear activities take place in the country, this knowledge is declining,” it said.
Between late-April and early-May, there were indications of the operation of the steam plant that serves the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon site, according to the report.
However, the duration of the steam plant’s operation was not sufficient to have supported the reprocessing of a complete core from the experimental nuclear power plant reactor, it added.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump held a groundbreaking summit in Singapore in June.
At the meeting the pair struck a vague agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but there has been little movement since.
Before this, Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April for their first summit. They agreed to push for a declaration of an end to the Korean War this year.