President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday at a ceremony in Kabul paid tribute to Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque’s imam, Mohammad Ayaz Niazi.
On Tuesday evening an explosion at Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque in downtown Kabul left two dead including Niazi and eight others wounded, according to a statement by the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
The explosion happened at around 7:30 pm local time.
Ghani at the ceremony said that the Ulema, the academic community--especially students of Kabul University who were students of Niazi--are "all mourning today.”
The president also said that the government's aim is prevent violence and bring peace.
President Ghani called on the Taliban to remain committed to the ceasefire and to help build concrete steps for intra-Afghan talks.
“Let the ceasefire that brought hopes among the people during the Eid-ul-Fitr continue, and distance yourself from the violent extremism to help kickstart intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible,” the palace said in a statement, quoting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani has also urged Afghanistan’s Ulema to work to bring peace and stability to the country.
He also assigned a six-member delegation led by Abdul Hakim Munib, acting minister of hajj and religious affairs, to investigate the incident, says the Presidential Palace in statement.
Niazi was born in 1964 in Yemgan district of northeastern Badakhshan province.
He graduated from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, focusing on Islamic economy and had a doctorate in international relations from the perspective of Islamic jurisprudence.
After he returned from Egypt, he started as a professer at Kabul University and also was an imam at Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque.
Former Afghan president Hamdi Karzai paid his respects to Niazi at Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan hospital in Kabul and called him a “great” religious scholar and “patriot.”
Karzai said that his death is a “big loss.”
US Chargés d’Affaires Ross Wilson in a tweet condemned the “terrorist attack” against the Wazir Akbar Khan mosque, saying that “houses of worship are refuges of prayer and love, not violence and death.”
“We offer our condolences to the family of Dr. Ayaz Niazi, who lost his life serving God and his community,” he said.
"I strongly condemn the despicable attack on the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque in Kabul. Attacks on sites of prayer and public gatherings are unacceptable. Afghans deserve to live in peace and safety. NATO stands with the Afghan people in the fight against terrorism.”-NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Stefano Pontecorvo said.
No group has claimed responsibly for the attack. The Taliban condemned the explosion and the group called the attack a "big crime."
Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation in a tweet said: “criminal terrorists struck once again at a towering religious figure in our country. They view great religious scholars as a major threat against their extremist ideology.”
“It is terrible to hear about the martyrdom of Dr Mohammad Ayaz Niazi in a terrorist bombing inside Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque. Terrorists killed him, but they can never wipe out his legacy of true religious scholarship and practice,” said Abdullah.
The ulema in eastern Kunar province also condemned the attack and urging the government to “protect the Ulema.”
Also, the ulema has gathered in northern Takhar province and condemned the attacked and called it “an organized attack,” adding that the current situation is not “acceptable for the Ulema.”