Aftermath of suicide attack at mosque in Afghanistan
Aftermath of suicide attack at mosque in Afghanistan REUTERS/Stringer

The Washington Post reports eighteen people are so far confirmed dead, and twenty-one more injured, after an explosion in a mosque in Herat, Afghanistan during Friday prayers - a time when mosques are known to be more crowded than usual.

A video from the scene shows the mosque courtyard filled with bodies and bloodstains, with men shouting 'Allah-u Akbar' (God is great) in shock.

One of those killed in the blast was Mujib-ul Rahman Ansari, a prominent cleric who was known across Afghanistan for his criticism of the country’s Western-backed governments over the past two decades. Ansari was seen as close to the Taliban, who seized control over Afghanistan a year ago as foreign forces withdrew. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed his death.

According to a tweet mourning his death, Ansari had rushed from a meeting with the Taliban government’s deputy prime minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to make it to the mosque for prayers.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.