At least 16 people were killed in two Afghan cities on Thursday by bomb blasts that were claimed by the Islamic State group (IS).
Since Taliban fighters seized control of Afghanistan last year after ousting the US-backed government, the number of bombings has fallen but the jihadist and Sunni IS has continued with attacks often against Shiite targets.
Earlier this week, at least six people were killed in twin blasts that hit a boys’ school in a Shiite neighbourhood of Kabul.
On Thursday, 12 worshippers were killed in a blast at a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, said Ahmad Zia Zindani, spokesman for the provincial public health department in Balkh.
He added that 58 people were wounded, including 32 in serious condition.
Grisly images posted to social media showed victims of the attack being carried to hospital from Seh Dokan mosque.
“Blood and fear are everywhere,” Zindani told AFP, adding “people were screaming” while seeking news of their relatives at the hospital.
“Many residents were also coming to donate blood,” he said.
The blast occurred as worshippers were offering midday prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In a statement, IS said “the soldiers of the caliphate managed to get a booby-trapped bag” inside the mosque, detonating it from afar.
In a separate blast on Thursday in the city of Kunduz, at least four people were killed and 18 wounded. Police spokesman Obaidullah Abedi told AFP that a bicycle bomb exploded near a vehicle carrying mechanics working for the Taliban.
Late on Thursday, IS claimed that attack too but said its fighters set off an explosive device on a bus carrying Kunduz airport employees.
Taliban authorities vowed to punish those responsible for the bloodshed.