Military Operations or Intra-group Conflict; What Sparked the Clashes in Herat on Wednesday Night?

On Wednesday night last week, there were numerous reports of violent explosions and armed conflict in various areas of Herat. The Taliban leader in Herat‘s information and culture department initially posted on his Twitter page that the Taliban‘s forces had launched an operation against an ISIS hideout, followed by an announcement of a deadly assault on a kidnapper’s den, before deleting both of his tweets. The governor’s media office and the Taliban security command in Herat urged the locals to remain calm and not to believe in “false rumors”. Despite this, the residents of Herat were still concerned and intrigued by the two Taliban officials’ information requests. According to local reports, these armed encounters took place between the Taliban’s local commanders and their chief of intelligence.

Residents of the area allege that at 8:10 PM on Wednesday night, explosions and clashes broke out in Herat city. The 9th and 11th districts of Herat experienced particularly intense skirmishes, while intermittent gunfire was heard in other parts of the city. Both light and heavy weapons were used during these conflicts, which continued intermittently for approximately five hours.

At the beginning of these conflicts, NaeemulHaq Haqqani, the Taliban‘s head of communication and culture in Herat, posted on his Twitter page:The Khawarj hideout is located above the 9th and 11th districts of Herat City, which are under Mujahideen control. Reports of conflict in other parts of the city and subsequent explosions are false stories spread on social media.” In a tweet, Naeem-ul-Haq Haqqani mentioned the murder of two ISIS militants, but his post was soon removed.

Several reliable sources informed Hasht-e-Subh that the conflicts between the Taliban factions were responsible for these clashes. The head of Taliban intelligence for Herat and the local commanders of this organization were involved in these confrontations, as reported by sources within the Taliban. A source who requested to remain anonymous stated that an operational group associated with the Taliban’s “033” directorate of general intelligence arrived in Herat on Wednesday night, April 16, and proceeded to Shaidayee without consulting the local Taliban leadership first. The source states that members of the operational group shot and killed Wahid, who was armed with a Kalashnikov, in Shaidayee. It is unclear what Wahid was doing and which organization or group he was affiliated with.

This operating group then proceeded to the districts of Ferqa, Shaidayee, and Nowbad, where they looted the homes, according to the source. Furthermore, the source alleged that members of this operative squad destroyed a number of homes in the area, claiming it to be anISIS camp.” The report also stated that this Taliban military force had killed seven people and detained two others in the Ferqa neighborhood of Herat city.

At least thirty armed individuals have reportedly been killed in the Arab neighborhood, Malasian, Mahalsafa, and Baraman areas as a result of simultaneous Taliban operations, according to a reliable source. Mawlawi Abdul Karim Mahbob, the chief of Taliban intelligence, and two local commanders of the group, Mawlawi Dawood and Mawlawi Ghafoor, were said to have been involved in an armed confrontation on Wednesday night, resulting in the deaths of several Taliban members, including the intelligence chief and local commanders. The cause of the conflict remains unknown.

Conversely, according to the initial statement of the local Taliban representatives, the members of this group have only conducted two military operations against the ISIS hideout in the 9th and 11th districts of Herat city. However, the residents asserted that fighting was taking place in various parts of the city simultaneously. As of yet, no Taliban organization has provided an official explanation for the fighting on Wednesday night.

It has been reported by local sources that the Taliban invaded the 9th and 11th districts of Herat city with loaders one day after the conflict began, and caused extensive damage to private residences. This has been corroborated by images provided to HashteSubh, which show the Taliban demolishing homes in the aforementioned districts.

According to sources, this conflict between the Taliban was not the first; there had already been numerous hours of battles between regional Taliban commanders in other provinces of the country. In the last week, armed Taliban battles have occurred in the provinces of Nimroz and Panjshir, resulting in at least five deaths and 20 injuries.