efe-epaKabul

A bomb blast inside a mosque in the Afghan capital on Friday killed three people, including a prominent religious scholar who was leading the congregational prayers, officials said.

At least 16 worshipers, who along with dozens of others had gathered to offer Friday afternoon prayers at the mosque, were also were injured in the blast, the officials said.

The lead preacher, Samiullah Raihan, was a strong supporter of the government of President Ashraf Ghani which insurgents are trying to topple down.

The explosion by “terrorists” took place at 1.20 pm in east of Kabul city, Interior Ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said in a statement.

“In this explosion, unfortunately, prominent scholar of the country, Maulavi Raihan – who was leading the prayers – was martyred and 16 persons who were offering prayers were injured,” Rahimi said.

Raihan was one of the prominent religious scholars in the country and was an advocate of peace in Afghanistan.

In his sermons, he would usually preach peace and welfare of people and always spoke against violence that has plagued the country for decades.

Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar on his twitter account said three people were killed in the explosion and another 18 were injured.

Police said initial investigation showed that explosives had been planted before the Friday afternoon prayers in the front row of the mosque that is always reserved for the imam, or prayer leader.

“The injured were taken to nearby hospitals and police have started investigation. More details will be available later,” Firdaws Faramarz, spokesman for Kabul police, told EFE.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Such attacks in the past against scholars had been carried out either by Taliban or Islamic State militant groups.

bks/ssk