Afghan mosque attack: Father of teen roboticist among victims in Herat

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Afghan teenager Fatemah Qaderyan takes a photograph with her father at Herat airport on on July 13, 2017Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Fatemah Qaderyan was pictured with her father at Herat airport last month after being allowed to fly to the US

The father of an Afghan schoolgirl who took part in a recent robotics competition in the US was among those killed in an attack on a mosque in the city of Herat, her family has said.

Mohammad Asif Qaderyan, father of Fatemah Qaderyan, 14, died from injuries sustained in Tuesday's attack.

Fatemah was captain of the all-girl team that made headlines by taking part in the international event last month.

The six team members were initially denied visas to travel to the US.

However, they were eventually allowed in after the reported intervention of President Donald Trump.

"We are all devastated," Fatemah's older brother, Mohammad Reza, told AFP news agency.

"Fatemah hasn't eaten or spoken since the incident and is in a state of shock. Today, after she fainted several times, doctors started IV fluid therapy."

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'There are girls who chase their dreams in robotics and education'

The six girls are all from Herat in western Afghanistan, close to the Iranian border.

Fatemah made an emotional appeal after the team's visa applications to attend the robotics competition in Washington were rejected.

"We want to take the message of peace to America and convey that Afghanistan is not only the country of war, and there are girls who chase their dreams in robots and education," she told AFP at the time.

Officials would not give their reasons for initially refusing the visas. A US travel ban is in place for six Muslim-majority countries but does not include Afghanistan.

Image source, EPA
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The deadly explosion devastated the mosque in Herat

However, President Trump persuaded authorities to rethink their decision, AP news agency reported.

The girls went on to win a silver medal for courageous achievement in Washington.

More than 30 people were killed and scores more wounded when a suicide bomber and a gunman stormed the Shia Muslim Jawadia mosque in Herat during evening prayers.

Islamic State militants (IS) said they carried out the attack.

Areas dominated by Shia Muslims in Afghanistan have been repeatedly hit by attacks in the past year, by both IS and the Taliban.