Every month, a suicide bomber at a market in the early morning hour of Afghanistan’s holy month of Ramadan killed more than 30 people, this one widely regarded as the worst in years, officials said.
The bomb, which was detonated remotely in a predominately Shiite city in the south, was allegedly “premeditated,” something that has become a concern as more deadly attacks occur in the country. But details remain scant.
Questions soon came, however, in the first news reports after the attack, and they weren’t from official sources. They came from clerics and Muslim scholars.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Imam Warlum Azam Helmandi, one of the most outspoken anti-U.S. clerics in Afghanistan, described how he was certain that the bombing had been committed by the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS.
“They had large, magnetic explosives, which didn’t show after the attack,” said Mr. Helmandi, a former member of parliament. “They also had a key to a black car that they only use for such attacks.”
The cleric was talking on an Internet video apparently recorded at the local Shiite mosque, and apparently broadcast from his home. In recent years, Mr. Helmandi has helped many Afghans cultivate an anti-ISIS discourse. But he is sure of the brutality of the Islamic State, commonly referred to in Afghanistan as ISIL, and has sought to cast doubt on its reported victories elsewhere in the world.
“That’s an Islamic fundamentalist state that has nowhere to hide in the world and with no future,” he said. “We don’t see any example of a liberal state in the world. They brought young men to do this.”
After the bomber struck, 12 people were also killed in several separate explosions at schools and others at the market. More than two dozen were wounded, officials said.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but a spokesman for a coalition of Afghan Shiite militias said it had suspected Islamic State involvement in the killings.