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Explosion in mosque kills two in eastern Afghanistan, injured dozens amid rising ISKP threat

At least two people were killed and over two dozen were wounded on Friday when a bomb exploded in a mosque in eastern Afghanistan amid the fear of growing ISKP threat following the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government in August this year

Nov 12, 2021
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At least two people were killed and over two dozen were wounded on Friday when a bomb exploded in a mosque in eastern Afghanistan amid the fear of growing ISKP threat following the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government in August this year. A provincial Taliban official confirmed the bombing.  

The incident happened in Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar, which has turned into a battleground between the Taliban and the rival ISKP militants, with the city reporting bombings, IED attacks, and targeted killings on Taliban fighters almost on daily basis. 

The bomb appeared to have been planted inside the mosque, located in the mountainous Spin Ghar area outside Jalalabad, confirmed Taliban provincial spokesperson Qari Hanif, without confirming casualties. 

The Friday attack--the third major mosque bombing in five weeks--highlights the increasingly growing threat posed by the ISKP, whose cadre enjoy a considerable support base among jihadists in the eastern region. 

Last month, ISKP suicide bombers and gunmen blasted worshippers, targeting the country’s Shiite Muslim minority, in a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz. Later, a similar bombing attack was carried out in the southern city of Kandahar, the birthplace and stronghold of the Taliban. Both attacks were claimed by the ISKP. 

The Taliban, the new rulers of Afghanistan, havevreportedly been carrying out counterinsurgency operations in Nangahar province, with reports indicating frequent cases of disappearance of the people and killings. The number of incidents involving beheading has also increased in the last few weeks. 

Importantly, the ISKP militants, mostly from the Salafist ideological background, consider Taliban militants, who follow Deobandi Islam, as ideological enemies. The ISKP has been accusing the Taliban of being US allies after the signing of the Doha deal in 2020.

Regional countries, mainly Russia and Iran, see the increasing activities of ISKP as a primary threat to their security. Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan remain vulnerable to what is now becoming growing intra-jihadist violence. It also remains a key concern for Russia, which accords great priority to the stability of Central Asian countries.

Furthermore, if the Taliban’s isolation continues--exacerbating the prevailing humanitarian crisis further-- the ISKP is destined to take advantage of these situations often considered suitable for their jihadi recruitment. 

In a recent article, Barnett Rubin, who has studied the country for over four decades and is considered a well-known expert on Afghanistan, gave a stern warning on the growing threat in the region. 

In a piece, published in The War on Rocks, he wrote, “Under a superficial calm reminiscent of 2002, things are simmering, and the alternative to the Taliban is not Karzai, Abdullah, Saleh, or Massoud. It is the Islamic State in Afghanistan.”

Furthermore, Rubin argued, “Afghanistan needs a political settlement as much today as it did on August 14, 2021 (a day before Kabul fell).” If the Taliban fails to do so, he warned, the group will meet “the same fate as its predecessors.” 

(SAM)

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