Bomb Blast Inside Mosque Kills At Least 14 In Eastern Afghanistan

A bombing inside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more, Afghan officials said.

The blast took place during afternoon prayers at the mosque in the city of Khost, the capital of the province of the same name. The mosque was also being used as a voter registration center for parliamentary elections set for October, marking the latest in a series of attacks on election-related facilities.

The explosion is believed to be caused by explosives planted in the mosque, rather than by a suicide bomber, a spokesman for the provincial police told Reuters.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and ISIS are suspected as those groups have a history of targeting democratic elections. The Associated Press notes that while ISIS has gained more ground in Afghanistan in recent years, the terror group does not have a confirmed presence in Khost.

The parliamentary elections planned for October would be the first held in Afghanistan since 2014, but repeated attacks have delayed voter registration. Local media reports this is the seventh attack on an election-related site since registration started in mid-May.

Milaha Hassan, an election commissioner, told The New York Times that only 1.2 million people are registered to vote out of 14 million who are believed to be eligible. The government's credibility and that of its Western allies hangs in the balance as the violence threatens to undermine the upcoming parliamentary vote, which has already been put off three years.

Last month, a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 100 others who were registering to vote in the Afghan capital, Kabul. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.

NPR's Diaa Hadid also reports for our Newscast unit that seven Indian citizens and their Afghan driver were abducted Sunday in northern Baghlan province. The provincial governor blamed the Taliban, though no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

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