A bomb exploded at a mosque doubling as a voter registration center in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 12 people and wounding dozens more, local officials said.
The attack took place in the city of Khost, capital of the restive province of the same name. The bomb detonated as worshipers were gathering for afternoon prayers inside the mosque, which is also being used to register voters for parliamentary elections due in October.
Investigators believe the blast was caused by an explosive device left inside the mosque, not a suicide bomber, Reuters reported, citing provincial police spokesman Basir Bina.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. Both the Taliban and Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate reject democratic elections and have targeted election centers in the past.
Sunday’s bombing is the latest in a horrific wave of attacks from Islamic State and Taliban militants in Kabul and other urban centers in Afghanistan. On April 22, an Islamic State suicide bomber attacked a voter identification card distribution center in Kabul, killing more than 50 people and wounding at least 130 others.
The attacks have killed hundreds of civilians since January — particularly in Kabul, the heart of the Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government. Afghan security forces have struggled to prevent the ISIS and Taliban attacks, even as the U.S. military has deployed more troops and increased air strikes throughout the country.
The Khost bombing comes on the heels of a U.S. government watchdog report that found a sharp decline in the strength of U.S.-backed Afghan security forces. The combined number of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces fell by roughly 36,000 between January 2017 and the same month this year, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said on April 22.
More than a third of Afghanistan’s population lives in insurgent-controlled territory, according to SIGAR.
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