Afghanistan blast / Credit: REUTERS

A huge explosion has ripped through a crowded mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 21 people, police say.

Another 33 people were injured, Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said.

Wednesday’s blast occurred during evening prayers. The mosque’s imam is reported to be among the dead.

It is unclear who was behind the attack, a week after a prominent so-called Islamic State (IS) militants killed a pro-Taliban cleric in a suicide bomb blast, also in Kabul.

Security forces have now sealed off the blast scene in Kabul.

Witnesses described hearing a powerful explosion which shattered windows in nearby buildings.

“I saw that so many people were killed, even people were thrown out of the windows of the mosque,” one eyewitness told Reuters news agency.

Stefano Sozza, the head of the medical charity Emergency, which runs the city’s main hospital, told the BBC his group had already treated 35 people, including children.

“Our doctors… operated the patients in need of surgical assistance all night long. The injuries were mainly related to the blast so there were shells inside the bodies and burning injuries all over the bodies of the victims”.

He said he believed the blast was inside the mosque. “There was probably someone entering during the prayer time, so it was crowded at that moment and then [the attacker] activated this body burning improvised explosive device.

“So that all the persons that were close to the attacker were basically dead and the ones all around received several injuries,” Mr Sozza added.