A number of unknown gunmen have torched at least 12 mosques in the past week in northern Baghlan, local officials said on Wednesday.
Abdul Rasheed Bashir, the acting police chief of Baghlan, has however blamed the incidents on the Taliban – an accusation not yet confirmed by the militant group.
“Over the past one week, the Taliban set 12 mosques on fire which were later extinguished by the locals ” Bashir said.
Most of these mosques were torched in Dand-e-Ghori area in Pul-e-Khumri, the provincial capital, officials said.
The motive behind the acts of vandalism is however unclear. But TOLOnews’ reporter who visited the area said no one, including local police commanders, are prepared to discuss the perceived motive behind the string of incidents.
The locals said however that they were too afraid to speak out against those behind the fires.
Abdul Rasheed Nadim, head of Baghlan’s Hajj and Religious Affairs Department, confirmed in an interview with TOLOnews that a number of copies of the Holy Quran and other religious books were also burned in the incidents.
He warned of devastating consequences if the government failed to take measures to stop the practice.
“These mosques were torched in the areas under control of the Taliban,” he said. “If government doesn’t prevent it, it may turn into a culture.”
The residents of Baghlan, meanwhile, called the act un-Islamic and demanded the government act to arrest the perpetrators and for justice to be served.
“Mosque is a sacred place for worshipping Allah. It is obligatory on all Muslims to respect mosques. Those who are setting these mosques on fire have no knowledge of Islam,” a resident of Baghlan said.
The incidents have taken place in the areas currently under Taliban control.