Afghanistan: 17 dead after gunman opens fire on Shia shrine, IS claims responsibility

A police officer was among the dead and?36 people were wounded in the attack, interior ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said. Photograph:( Others )

Reuters Kabul, Afghanistan Oct 11, 2016, 06.06 PM (IST)

At least 17 people were killed after a gunman entered a Shia shrine in the Afghan capital of Kabul Tuesday evening and opened fire on worshippers.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released online, Reuters reported.

The attack began just before 8 pm local time, police said, with witnesses reporting an explosion followed by gunfire. 

Hundreds of Shia Muslims had gathered at the Karte Sakhi, one of Kabul's largest, to observe the Shiite holy day of Ashura which commemorates the death of a grandson of the prophet.  

A police officer was among the dead and 36 people were wounded in the attack, Reuters reported interior ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi as saying. 

Ministry of public health officials, however, said at least 43 people were injured and were taken to hospitals in the city for treatment. 

Initial reports put the number of attackers at three but Sediqqi said police special forces who responded to the attack found and killed only one gunman, Reuters reported. 

Reuters reported Jamshid Jan, who witnessed the attack, as saying the attacker was dressed in a police uniform. 

An angry crowd surrounded and kicked at the suspected attacker's dead body, with some vowing to burn his remains, before police intervened, Reuters reported. 

Two police sources put the number of attackers at three, but they differed on how many of the gunmen remained alive.

Interior ministry spokesperson Sedeqqi said the police killed one gunman. 

Security forces at the scene had evacuated the shrine, Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told Reuters.

It remains unclear as to who is responsible for the deadly attack. The Taliban has denied any involvement.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)