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ISKP: Group re-emerges after two-month gap in activity

After a two-month hiatus in ISKP activity, the group resumed attacks in Kandahar, Kunar, Kabul, and Herat, targeting critical infrastructure and Shia communities, highlighting the group’s ongoing presence and capabilities in Afghanistan.


13 May 2024

After a two-month lull in ISKP attacks, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in front of the New Kabul Bank in Kandahar on 21 March 2024. Since then, the group has claimed multiple other attacks, including in Kunar, Kabul, and Herat.

Attacks on critical infrastructure and Shias in Kabul

On 9 April 2024, ISKP claimed responsibility, via its Telegram channels, for the detonation of an Improvised explosive device (IED) explosion at a fuel tanker in the Qala-e Murad Beg area, at the northern gate of Kabul city. The attack resulted in a large fire, however AW did not identify any reports of casualties following the detonation.

AW notes that the explosion marks the first ISKP attack targeting critical infrastructure since May 2022. Prior to this incident, ISKP claimed seven attacks against power pylons, and one attack against two fuel tankers since the Taliban takeover in 2021. The attack targeting the two fuel tankers took place on 26 September 2021, and the last targeted attack against a power pylon occurred on 22 May 2022. 

On 20 April 2024, ISKP claimed responsibility, via its Telegram channels, for another attack in Kabul. According to the group’s statement, a “sticky bomb” attached to a vehicle transporting Shias exploded while it was passing a Taliban checkpoint, “killing and wounding over 10.” 

Quoting Khalid Zadran, the Spokesman of the Kabul Police Command, ToloNews confirmed the incident, reporting that “a sticky mine planted in a Mercedes-type car exploded in the Kuta Sangi area.” Zadran added: “Unfortunately, the driver lost his life in this incident and three other civilians were injured.”

AW geolocated images showing the aftermath of the explosion, as can be seen below. The attack took place along ​​Pul-e-Sokhta Road, in Kabul’s Police District 6 (PD6), a Hazara-majority area, just north of the ​​Pul-e-Sokhta bridge.

Figure: AW investigators geolocated images showing the aftermath of an explosion targeting a minibus carrying civilians in Kabul’s PD6, a Hazara-majority area [34.507699, 69.117101]

According to international humanitarian organisation Emergency NGO, which operates out of Kabul, providing high quality healthcare to people affected by war and poverty, four people wounded in the attack were brought to their surgical centre. User-generated images, shared on X (formerly Twitter) indicate heavy damage to the minibus. However, AW did not confirm any casualties following the explosion.

ISKP previously claimed an attack along ​​Pul-e-Sokhta Road in August 2022, only metres from the attack claimed on 20 April 2024. The previous attack, claimed on 6 August 2022, also targeted a minibus; in this incident, however, the explosion resulted in several casualties.

The explosion on 20 April 2024 occurred near the entrance of the Dasht-e-Barchi area, and the main Shaheed Mazari Road, which runs through the area. Since August 2021, ISKP has claimed multiple attacks targeting minibuses in this area, the most recent of which took place on 6 January 2024, also along Shaheed Mazari Road.

Attack on a Shia mosque in Herat

On 29 April 2024, ISKP claimed responsibility, via its Telegram channels, for an attack targeting a Shia mosque in the Guzara district in Herat, located south of Herat city. According to the statement, the mosque was targeted with gunfire.

According to Ministry of Interior Affairs Spokesman Abdul Mateen Qani, the attack killed six people and injured one in the Shia Imam Zaman Mosque. Local media reported that Mullah Javid, the imam of the mosque, was among the casualties. AW collected user-generated footage, shared on social media, allegedly showing several victims of the attack inside a mosque. Based on this footage, AW confirmed at least five deceased individuals, including a child, with visible blood. However, AW was unable to independently verify the location of the attack, the victims’ identities, or causes of death. 

This attack marks the first claimed ISKP attack in the province since March 2023, when Mohammad Nader Kaka, the Director of Herat city’s Department of Water Supply, was assassinated.

AW note, however, that Herat experienced a series of three unclaimed, targeted killings of Shia scholars between 22 October 2023 and 1 December 2023. ISKP did not claim any of the attacks, however, a Taliban raid on a suspected ISKP cell in Herat, allegedly linked to these killings, suggests ISKP involvement in these killings.

Since April 2022, ISKP has refrained from claiming attacks targeting Shias in Herat. The group’s modus operandi in the province often includes targeting government workers in the centre of Herat city. 

After a lull in activity, ISKP has conducted a diverse array of attacks in multiple provinces of Afghanistan. With a suicide bombing in Kandahar; an explosion targeting the Taliban in Kunar; attacks on critical infrastructure and Shias in Kabul; and an attack on a Shia mosque in Herat, ISKP has demonstrated that periods of inactivity do not necessarily indicate an abscene of the group in Afghanistan.

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