Several dozen worshippers were killed Friday in a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan's northern city of Kunduz. The attack is the deadliest in the country since U.S. forces completely withdrew from the region in late August.
It is not yet confirmed which group is responsible for the attack, though it displayed key elements of those carried out by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province, an Islamic State regional affiliate that has targeted Shiite civilians in the past.
The attack was conducted at about 1 p.m. local time as weekly mosque-goers were attending a sermon. A spokesman for the provincial government reported that at least 46 people were killed, though that figure is expected to rise significantly. Hundreds of patients in critical condition were admitted to local hospitals following the blast.
"This is the bloodiest attack I have seen in my life," said one attending doctor. "The floor of each intensive-car unit is filled with blood – it is like a blood river."
An eyewitness said: "All the windows of houses close to the mosque have been shattered and I see pieces of flesh on the street."
As Afghanistan enters a period of economic and governmental free-fall following the collapse of its last government in August and the rise of the Taliban, Afghans are waiting to see exactly how their new leadership will perform.
"We are suffering from hunger and lack of money, but we are willing to put up with that as the Taliban promised that the war was over," said one Kunduz shopkeeper whose store is close to Friday's explosion site. "If this violence carries on, we will stand against the Taliban just as we stood against the last government."