96 People Killed in the Last Two Months As ISKP Members Intensify Targeted Attacks in Taliban-Occupied Afghanistan

Written by Fahim Amin | Translated by English Section Editor

Although the US had previously warned of the possibility of a rise in ISKP offensives during the summer this year, the extremist militia has seemingly intensified its aggressions even as the weather gets colder. Only in the last two months, at least 96 people have been killed in ISKP attacks in Afghanistan. Among the dead were 73 civilians and 23 Taliban members. In addition, 141 civilians and 21 Taliban fighters were wounded in these attacks. In the past few days, two armed attacks and one blast have taken place in Kabul and Nangarhar. These three attacks have left human and financial losses. Citizens, however, are concerned about the continuation of such attacks and want to have their security ensured. Political figures believe that Afghanistan has become a battlefield for great powers, indicating that handling the security crisis is beyond the control of the Taliban.

According to reports, around 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, a powerful explosion occurred in the first district of Jalalabad city, the capital of Nangarhar province. The Taliban’s head of information and culture in Nangarhar confirmed that six civilians were injured in the blast. This blast was caused by an explosive device planted near the shop of Charan Singh, the only remaining Hindu in this province. Local residents said that this explosion was so powerful that it broke the windows of neighboring houses and shops and caused financial damage to local residents. Local Taliban officials have also announced the discovery and neutralization of two more landmines near the blast site. Although no individual or group has claimed responsibility for this attack, most of these attacks are carried out by the Islamic State in Khurasan Province (ISKP).

Besides, the Pakistani embassy in the Karta-e Parwan area of Kabul came an armed attack three days ago (Friday, December 2nd). It is said that the attackers planned to assassinate Pakistan’s ambassador Obaid ul-Rehman Nizamani, but they did not succeed. Pakistani officials have reported that Mr. Nizamani was patrolling inside the embassy compound when he was targeted by assassins. As a result of this attack, one of the security guards of the Pakistani embassy, named Israr Mohammad, was injured. It is reported that the shooting took place from a building near the embassy. The Taliban have also announced that after the shooting, its forces arrived at the site, arresting a suspect with two guns from a building near the Pakistani embassy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan called the assassination attempt a “serious security error,” adding that this event very worrying. The ministry said in a statement on Friday that it has summoned the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad in connection with the shooting at its embassy in Kabul. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has emphasized that providing security and protection of diplomatic missions and employees of Pakistan is the responsibility of the “interim government” of Afghanistan. The attack on the Pakistani embassy in Kabul has caused widespread reactions. The authorities of the United States of America, Great Britain and a number of other countries have condemned this attack.

Although the ISKP has claimed responsibility for this attack, the government of Pakistan views the announcement of this group with suspicion. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has decided to independently investigate this attack in consultation with the Taliban and verify the ISKP claim. The government of Pakistan has not provided details about how to investigate this case. Mumtaz Baloch, the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that this attack is another reminder of the threat that terrorism poses to peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

In another case, the office of Hizb-e-Islami located in Dar-ul-Aman area of Kabul witnessed an armed attack on Friday. In this incident, two armed attackers exploded a mosque of the office of Hizb-e-Islami during Friday prayers. The aim of these attackers was to assassinate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e-Islami, who was unhurt. According to reports, as a result of the gun battle between the attackers and the guards of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one worshiper was killed and two others were injured. Mr. Hekmatyar condemned the attack in a video message, saying that the suicide attackers had approached the mosque in women’s clothes, but before the explosion, they were killed by his bodyguards.

Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the Taliban, visited the leader of Hizb-e-Islami one day after this attack, assuring him of providing his security and arresting and punishing the perpetrators of this attack. Hamid Karzai, the former president, and Abdullah Abdullah, the former head of the Supreme Reconciliation Council, have condemned the attack on the office of Hizb-e-Islami.

Suicide Attack on Al-Jihadiya Madarassa

Furthermore, on Wednesday, a deadly blast targeted al-Jihadiya madrassa in Aybak city, the capital of northern Samangan province. This explosion occurred during prayer and left dozens dead and injured. In its latest report, UNAMA announced that 19 people were killed and 23 others were injured as a result of this explosion. It is reported that 20 children are among the dead.

The explosion inside the mosque in Aybak has provoked widespread reactions among national and foreign political players. Rina Amiri, the US special representative for Afghan women, described the attack on al-Jihadiya school as “barbaric” in a tweet. “The barbaric attack in Samangan, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of dozens of people, mostly children, is very heartbreaking,” she added. “Such cowardly violence against children is an attack on Afghanistan’s future and must be stopped.” Also, Karen Decker, the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Afghanistan, called this attack “hateful” and said that Afghan children should be respected and protected.

UNAMA announced a comprehensive investigation of the deadly explosion and asked the officials of this madrassa to be accountable in this regard. So far, no individual or group has claimed responsibility for this explosion.

Armed Attacks in Herat

The aggressions of armed groups have also intensified in Herat province. It is said that the ISKP is planning to take root in this province, but the Taliban have denied the physical presence of this group in the country. Local sources have reported an attack by armed individuals on one of the Taliban outposts in Herat Province. This attack took place in Chaharbagh Firuza area of Injil district. As a result of this armed attack, four Taliban forces were killed and three others were wounded. As of yet, it is not clear which group attacked the Taliban outpost. The Taliban also do not say anything about this news.

Before that, a minibus carrying the employees of Taliban’s al-Farooq corps was attacked by armed forces in Herat. The attack killed five members of the Taliban and injured 18 others. The ISKP claimed responsibility for that armed attack, explaining that one of its fighters shot at the occupants of this minibus.

In another incident, gunmen attacked a Taliban outpost in Fargh Shahr area of Herat. Local residents say that the gun battle between armed men and Taliban fighters continued for several hours. Local sources told Hasht-e Subh that 14 Taliban fighters were killed in this attack. Taliban officials in Herat have not yet expressed their opinion on this matter.

Before this, another bloody attack in the Dasht-e Barchi area of Kabul claimed dozens of civilians and teenage students dead and injured. According to reports, two months and seven days ago, armed attackers attacked the Kaj Academy in the west of Kabul, as a result of which, at least 53 people were killed and 110 others were wounded. Most of the victims of this incident were female students.

This attack also caused sharp reactions from political figures, international institutions and the world community. Amnesty International described this attack as horrific by publishing a statement, saying that such attacks on the Hazara minority neighborhoods show the shameful inability and complete failure of the Taliban to protect the citizens’ life.

The Taliban attributed this attack to the ISKP, saying that the perpetrators carried out the attack had been killed. Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Taliban, announced that a military campaign has been carried out to wipe out the group and its affiliates in the 8th security district of Kabul city. He said that this operation was carried out on one of the hideouts of the ISKP, and as a result, a bunch of its fighters were killed.

“The ISKP fighters killed in this operation were those who were involved in the recent explosions in the Wazir Muhammad Akbar Khan mosque, the Kaj education center in Dasht-e Barchi, and some other crimes against civilians,” Mujahid detailed.

Public Outcry

However, citizens expressed concerns over the continuation of ISKP attacks in mosques, religious houses, monasteries and public places. Although they want to provide security in the country, they do not expect the Taliban to provide their security.

A number of political figures who gathered in a meeting titled “Herat Security Dialoque” in the city of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to discuss the inclusive political system and provide solutions for the challenges in Afghanistan, pointed out on the sidelines of the meeting that the Taliban do not have the ability to provide security. Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the National Resistance Front (NRF), has warned that Afghanistan has become a center of terrorism and a recruiting ground for terrorist groups.

“The incidents of the past 16 months in Afghanistan and the findings of the two-day Herat security Dialogue in Dushanbe indicate that the Taliban have completely failed in their claim to bring peace and stability to the country and are unable to control the situation,” Massoud added.

Afrasiab Khatak, the leader of Pakistan’s “Awami National” party, also said in this conference that Afghanistan has become a field of strategic competition between great powers. Khatak has also said that the Taliban will not last as they are “extreme and primitive” and do not have the ability to govern.

In this meeting, Farhad Salim, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, also expressed concern about the increase in terrorist activities in Afghanistan and emphasized the formation of an inclusive political system in Afghanistan.

All this is while General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the Central Command of the United States Army, had warned in last August in the Senate Armed Forces Committee about the resumption of ISIS activities in Afghanistan in the summer. McKenzie said that the Taliban are “failing” in their efforts to suppress ISIS in the country, and it is likely that ISIS terrorist attacks will increase in this country as the summer approaches.