Killings, bombings continue as clashes intensify between ISKP and Taliban in Afghanistan

On 16th August 2021, a day after the Taliban captured Kabul, the group’s leader Haibatullah Akhundzada issued a statement, claiming the war was over in Afghanistan

Oct 24, 2021
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Killings, bombings continue as clashes intensify between ISKP and Taliban in Afghanistan

On 16th August 2021, a day after the Taliban captured Kabul, the group’s leader Haibatullah Akhundzada issued a statement, claiming the war was over in Afghanistan. The announcement of ending war came unilaterally, without any peace deal, as the Taliban managed to vanquish the US-backed Afghan government and its security forces. 

The proclamation was in contrast with the recent history of the country. War never ends in Afghanistan when a party unilaterally claims it over. From former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 to Assadullah Khalid--who would later become the defense minister of Afghanistan-- in 2006, all had at different points in time declared the war over; In reality, it never ended. 

Over two months after the Taliban takeover, the situation isn’t turning any different for the new rulers, the Taliban. On Saturday, two IEDs went off, targeting the vehicles of Ismatullah Mubariz, the Taliban’s police chief for the eastern city of Jalalabad. The explosions killed two people, including a child, who was standing nearby the passing vehicle. 

Nangahar, an eastern border province in Afghanistan, has become a new battleground. The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), which follows the Salafi ideology, different from the Deobandifollowed by the Taliban, has been targeting the Taliban officials in the province. Jalalabad, its capital, is symbolizing the escalating ruthlessness of this conflict, as the sightings of dead bodies--in many cases beheaded-- become almost daily occurrences.

On Thursday, four Taliban fighters were killed in capital Kabul in an IED bombing claimed by the ISKP. On the same day, a Taliban official believed to be from its intelligence wing war,  was assassinated in Jalalabad. 

Since 15 August, the ISKP claimed over four dozen attacks, including two bombings of Shia mosques that killed over hundreds. The clashes between the two Jihadi groups have been growing both in intensity and frequency.  

The Taliban fighters and commanders are picking up and abducting anyone they suspect is remotely linked to the ISKP. Once gone, their relatives only hope to find their dead bodies in a day or two. No one --not even the Taliban-- claims their killings. 

Furthermore, the ISKP has even started targeting electricity pylons, terming the tactic its “economic warfare.” As the new rulers, the Taliban has now been feeling the burden of the governance and protection of the state infrastructure--the things that mattered little to them when they were waging the insurgency in the past two decades. 

Despite these attacks, the Taliban downplays the threat and refused any cooperation with the US, claiming they were capable of fighting it alone. Experts disagree though. The waging of an insurgency--as the Taliban did in the two decades-- is a lot easier than fighting one. The Taliban lacks the resources and power, technical assistance needed to contain it. The job is, even more, tougher in the absence of legitimacy, international assistance, and of course funds. 

Shia religious groups in Afghanistan have even warned of closing their all mosques and other places if the Taliban failed to protect them. Neighboring countries are also worried over any spillover effect out of the escalating fratricidal conflicts in Afghanistan. 

(SAM)