An explosion has ripped through a mosque inside an army base in Afghanistan’s volatile eastern Khost province, killing and wounding dozens of soldiers.
The explosion targeted members of the 2nd regiment of the Afghan national army as they held their Friday prayers inside the base.
Abdullah, an Afghan military spokesperson, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press news agency that the death toll from the explosion stood at 27 soldiers. The blast wounded 57 others, Abdullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, added.
Security officials meanwhile told the Reuters news agency that the explosion killed at least 26 people and wounded 50.
Sakhi Sardar, head of the hospital in Khost, said most of the wounded were being treated for shrapnel wounds.
The blast may have been set off by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb but nothing was officially confirmed.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the incident, calling it “anti-Islamic and inhumane”.
Ghani called for a swift investigation into the bombing and said he wanted to know how security at the army base was breached while calling for those responsible to be punished.
The explosion came just days after a suicide bomber killed 55 religious scholars gathered in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to celebrate the holiday marking the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
The Taliban denied involvement in that bombing, which also wounded 94 people.
The attack was the latest in a relentless, near-daily onslaughts in Afghanistan, where the Taliban regularly target Afghan military and police forces throughout the country.