At least 62 killed, more than 100 injured in Afghanistan mosque bombing
Presidential palace blames Taliban for attack, but group denies responsibility
Multiple explosions at a mosque in eastern Afghanistan collapsed the roof on worshippers during Friday prayers, killing at least 62 people and wounding more than 100 others, officials said.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesperson for Nangarhar province's governor, said bombs had been placed inside the mosque in the Jawdara area of Haska Meyna district.
"People using an excavator are still working to bring out the bodies and injured from under the roof," said Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the provincial council in Nangarhar, adding that the death toll was likely to rise.
Malik Mohammadi Gul Shinwari, a tribal elder from the area, said that the mosque was destroyed.
"It was a heartbreaking scene I witnessed with my eyes," Shinwari said, adding that 32 bodies and scores of injured have been transported from the blast site.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, but the government accused Taliban insurgents, who are fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by U.S.-led forces.
Sediq Sediqqi, spokesperson for the presidential palace, condemned what he said was a suicide bomb attack.
"The Taliban and their partners' heinous crimes continue to target civilians at the time of worship," Sediqqi said.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Taliban, denied responsibility, instead blaming the Kabul administration on Twitter.
ISIS, Taliban active in area
Tezab Khan, a member of the local police who was on duty in the area at the time of the attack, said, "I could hear the mullah who was preaching, and suddenly his voice was silenced with a boom."
"When I arrived on the scene, people were trying to bring out the bodies and injured who were stuck under the fallen roof."
The Jawdara area is controlled by Afghan security forces.
The Taliban and ISIS are actively operating in parts of Nangarhar that share a border with Pakistan in the east.
In western Herat province, six civilians were killed and five wounded when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, Jailani Farhad, a spokesperson for the provincial governor, said.
Women and children are among the victims, Farhad added.
A United Nations report on civilian casualties recorded 4,313 civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the past three months. It was the highest death toll for the summer months in at least a decade.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned Friday's mosque attack and extended "his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims," said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
Dujarri told reporters at UN headquarters in New York that "those responsible for this attack must be held accountable."