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At least 10 dead in Kabul Shiite mosque attack: officials

© POOL/AFP/File | Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said there had been an explosion inside the mosque but it was not clear if it had been caused by a suicide bomber or a grenade

KABUL (AFP) - 

At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on worshippers in a Shiite mosque in Kabul on Friday as they gathered for evening prayers, officials said, the latest attack to hit the Afghan capital.

An attacker "entered the mosque in Police District 13 of Kabul city... (and) opened fire on worshippers," Kabul Crime Branch chief General Mohammad Salim Almas told AFP, describing the gunman as a suicide bomber.

A health ministry spokesman told AFP that 10 bodies had been taken to hospitals in the city but that figure could change.

Eyewitnesses told local media that more than 30 people had been killed and around 50 others wounded in the attack but those figures could not be immediately verified.

Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid said there had been an explosion inside the mosque but it was not clear if it had been caused by a suicide bomber or a grenade.

"There were casualties and they were taken to the hospital," Mujahid told AFP.

"We do not know many were killed and wounded."

A spokesperson for the interior ministry said the explosion happened at the Imam Zaman mosque in the west of the city in a Shiite neighbourhood.

"Investigative teams have been deployed. The cause and nature of the explosion have not been determined yet," the spokesperson told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but recent assaults on Shiite mosques have been carried out by Islamic State militants, who belong to the rival Sunni branch of Islam.

The last attack on a Shiite mosque in Kabul happened on September 29 as Muslims prepared to commemorate Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.

Six people were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shiite centres in the city, as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.

An attack on another Shiite mosque in the city on August 25 killed 28 people and wounded around 50 others.

Four attackers who set off explosions and fired gunshots laid siege to the mosque in the north of the capital for four hours as dozens of men, women, and children had gathered for Friday prayers.

In recent years, the Taliban and Islamic State jihadists have repeatedly targeted the minority Shiite community, who number around three million in overwhelmingly Sunni Afghanistan.

© 2017 AFP