Police in northern Afghanistan say an explosion rocked the Mawlavi Sikandar mosque north of Kunduz city on Friday, reported DW, quoting news agencies AFP and AP.
Taliban Deputy Culture and Information Minister Zabihullah Mujahid said the bombing in the town of Imam Saheb killed at least 33 people and injured another 43. Many of the victims, he said, were students.
"The perpetrators of these incidents are … evil elements and serious efforts are being made to arrest and punish them," Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.
Eyewitnesses said the blast occurred as people gathered to pray, adding that, "There were a lot of casualties, around 30 to 40 people were injured and killed." Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast comes on the heels of three bomb attacks carried out across Afghanistan by the terrorist outfit "Islamic State in Khorasan Province" (IS-K) on Thursday.
On Friday, IS-K released a statement boasting that operatives had planted a bag full of explosives in a mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif, saying, "When the mosque was filled with prayers (sic), the explosives were detonated remotely." At least 12 worshipers were killed and 58 injured in the blast.
Taliban officials on Friday said they had arrested the "mastermind" behind the Mazar-e-Sharif attack.
Thursday's mosque bombing was the deadliest of three attacks that took place on the day. An earlier roadside bomb outside a school injured two children in the capital Kabul, and a third bomb injured 11 mechanics employed by the Taliban government.
Brutal terrorists pose grave security threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Afghanistan's religious Taliban rulers claim to have defeated the radical Islamists of IS-K but analysts say the group still represents a grave security challenge.
IS-K began operating in Afghanistan in 2014 and has been responsible for some of the country's most horrific attacks since then.
In May 2021, the group launched assaults on a maternity ward — killing 24 pregnant women and babies; as well as a car-bomb attack on a girls' school that killed 90 people and injured 240 — most young girls between the ages of 11 and 15.
In August 2021, IS-K carried out a bomb attack at the Kabul International Airport, killing more than 160 people trying to flee the country as the US and Western allies chaotically withdrew after having removed the Taliban from power 20 years prior. Thirteen US military personnel were also killed in the attack.
In November, the Taliban carried out attacks on IS-K hideouts and the group's activity declined dramatically. That trend has changed over the past several weeks, however, as the group steps up attacks in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.
A bombing at a school in the Afghan capital, Kabul, earlier this month killed at least seven students and injured several more.
In March, the group attacked a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing more than 65 people. It has also carried out attacks against Pakistani security forces.
On Thursday, police in Faisalabad, in Pakistan's Punjab province, issued a threat warning to residents of the country's third-largest city. "It has been learned," police said, "that IS-K planned to carry out terrorist activities in Faisalabad." Authorities advised citizens to "exercise extreme vigilance," though gave no further details.