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A family evacuates the area around the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul after a suicide attack on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

A family evacuates the area around the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul after a suicide attack on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

A family evacuates the area around the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul after a suicide attack on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

A family evacuates the area around the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul after a suicide attack on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

A volunteer guard and other bystanders crowd near the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, shortly after a suicide attack.

A volunteer guard and other bystanders crowd near the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, shortly after a suicide attack. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

A volunteer security guard protecting Shiite Muslims in the run-up to the Ashura holy day speaks to police after a suicide bomber attacked the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

A volunteer security guard protecting Shiite Muslims in the run-up to the Ashura holy day speaks to police after a suicide bomber attacked the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

A security guard blocks off the road leading to the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul after a suicide attack on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

A security guard blocks off the road leading to the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul after a suicide attack on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

Police block streets around the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. A suicide attacker blew himself up near the mosque as Shiites were preparing for the Ashura holy day.

Police block streets around the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. A suicide attacker blew himself up near the mosque as Shiites were preparing for the Ashura holy day. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

Police drive through a crowd of onlookers near the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29 2017, shortly after a suicide attacker blew himself up as Shiites prepared for the holy day of Ashura.

Police drive through a crowd of onlookers near the Shiite Hussainia Mosque in Kabul on Friday, Sept. 29 2017, shortly after a suicide attacker blew himself up as Shiites prepared for the holy day of Ashura. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

A member of Afghanistan's Crisis Response Unit, center, and residents of Kabul's Qala-e-Fathullah area look toward the site where a suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

A member of Afghanistan's Crisis Response Unit, center, and residents of Kabul's Qala-e-Fathullah area look toward the site where a suicide bomber blew himself up on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Phillip Walter Wellman/Stars and Stripes)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber dressed as a shepherd, and accompanied by sheep, blew himself up near a Shiite mosque here Friday, killing at least six civilians and wounding 20 others, officials said.

The assailant detonated his explosives on a street about 300 yards away from the Hussainia Mosque, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

“Women and children are among the wounded,” Danish said, adding that three suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.

NATO’s Resolute Support mission condemned the attack, which the local branch of the Islamic State group later claimed.

“This is another example of the atrocities caused by the insurgent group,” Resolute Support said in a statement. “We offer our most sincere condolences to the families of innocent victims martyred in these cowardly attacks.”

The blast could be heard in neighboring areas of Kabul and prompted some residents to come out into the streets to see what had happened.

Whole families evacuated the area amid the ensuing confusion. One man with blood dripping from his face was heard saying, “Where are you? Where are you?” on his phone.

Volunteer security guards dressed in black and carrying rifles and pistols diverted traffic throughout the Qala-e-Fathullah area shortly after the blast. They had been amassed to protect minority Shiites for the coming Ashura holy day, amid decreasing confidence in the Afghan security forces to do so.

After years of relative security, Kabul is today regarded as one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan.

The United Nations in April said Kabul province had the highest number of civilian casualties in the country because of suicide and complex attacks in Kabul city.

Friday’s attack came two days after the U.S. conducted its first airstrike in recent memory in Kabul in response to an attempt by militants to hit Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ plane during a visit. The U.S. military said a “missile malfunction” during the strike resulted in several noncombatant casualties.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.wellman.phillip@stripes.com Twitter:@PhillipWellman

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Phillip is a reporter and photographer for Stars and Stripes, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. From 2016 to 2021, he covered the war in Afghanistan from Stripes’ Kabul bureau. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics.

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