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ISKP claim responsibility for attack outside Kandahar bank

According to the group’s statement, a suicide bomber targeted Taliban members withdrawing their salaries. Reports cite conflicting casualty figures, though a source at a hospital claimed 21 individuals were killed in the attack.


28 Mar 2024

Photo: © Afghan Witness

On 21 March 2024, various sources reported a blast in Kandahar city. Multiple accounts on X (formerly Twitter) circulated a photo depicting the blast's aftermath. The image shows a damaged building, the New Kabul Bank, with shattered windows and blood stains visible on the ground.

Figure 1: Aftermath of the explosion in front of the New Kabul Bank office in Kandahar 

Additionally, an X account shared several images of injured individuals in a hospital, claiming they were victims of the incident, though no verification could be obtained. According to the Press Office of Kandahar Police Headquarters, cited by Shamshad News, a suicide attack occurred at 08:30 local time, in front of the New Kabul Bank office in Police District (PD) 1 of Kandahar City. In a statement, the Taliban Ministry of Interior attributed the blast to the detonation of a Person-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (PBIED). The statement added that initial investigations indicated the involvement of “Khawarij,” a term used by the Taliban to refer to Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).  CCTV [WARNING: GRAPHIC] footage was later shared on  X (formerly Twitter), showing the moment the suicide attacker detonated his explosives in a hallway of a shopping centre, adjacent to a large crowd of people on the street.

Conflicting reports of casualties  

According to Kandahar police, the attack resulted in three fatalities and 12 injured as customers were waiting in front of the bank. Some reporters and media cited unnamed local and hospital sources, who alleged that the casualties significantly exceeded the figures provided by the Taliban. 

The Taliban’s director of Information and Culture for Kandahar, Inamullah Samangani, told Shamshad News that the reports of higher casualties were untrue, and that just a small number of people were wounded in the blast. Sources from Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar told Radio Free Europe that four people were killed and 25 were injured in the explosion. On the evening of 21 March 2024, the BBC released a report citing information from a hospital source, who confirmed that 21 individuals had lost their lives, and another 50 had sustained injuries in the explosion. However, AW was unable to verify these claims as no visual evidence was provided in these reports.  


Attack target 

Various media sources revealed that the explosion targeted Taliban members who were collecting their salaries. The New Kabul Bank, a state-run institution, has been responsible for disbursing salaries to government employees since the time of the Republican government. In several instances, its branches across various provinces have been attacked by the Taliban and ISKP. Some pro-Taliban accounts asserted that Khalil Ahmad, an employee of the Kandahar municipality, who was present to collect his salary, was among the casualties of the explosion. Multiple sources circulated reports concerning the alleged casualties of the Kandahar blast, including Taliban members and civilians.  


Taliban-affiliated accounts blame Pakistan for attack  

Several accounts on X attributed blame to Pakistan for orchestrating the Kandahar blast, citing a perceived motive of seeking retaliation for Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacks within the country’s borders. Taliban-affiliated Al Mirsad Media published an article alleging that Pakistan was employing ISKP as a tool against Afghanistan. Jan Achakzai, the Information Minister for Balochistan, Pakistan, addressed this issue on X, asserting that Pakistan could directly retaliate, rather than employing ISKP for the attack.  


IS claim responsibility for the attack  

The Islamic State Central and Amaq news channel, in separate statements, claimed responsibility for the attack. They stated that a man named Muawiya Panjshiri detonated his explosive vest amidst a gathering of Taliban members who were queueing in front of the bank to receive their salaries. Additionally, the group released a masked photo, purportedly depicting the attacker. This marks the second attack claimed by ISKP in Kandahar, since the group’s emergence in Afghanistan. The previous attack struck a Shia mosque in Kandahar city, claiming the lives of numerous Shia civilians in October 2021. 


Identity of the attacker  

In statements, as well as a follow-up propaganda booklet released by ISKP-affiliated Al Azaim media, the attacker’s Panjshiri identity was emphasised. The 31-page booklet dedicated to the Kandahar attack highlighted the Taliban's alleged discrimination and killings based on ethnicity in Panjshir province; it claimed that the 21 March 2024 attack committed by Muawiya Panjshiri was evidence that ISKP, unlike the Taliban's nationalist movement, transcends ethnic boundaries. In the booklet, ISKP also warned that the killing of ordinary Panjshiri Muslims, based on ethnic prejudice, by Kandahari assailants would not go unquestioned.  

This is not the first occasion where ISKP has sought to provoke those in northern Afghanistan – often Tajiks, and notably residents in Panjshir – to mount opposition against the Taliban. In July 2023, Al Azaim media circulated a book advocating for residents of northern Afghanistan to unite with the group in opposition against the Taliban.      

Al Mirsad media refuted the Islamic State group's assertion regarding the identity of the Kandahar bomber. The outlet identified the attacker as Madiyarov Asadbek, and claimed that he hailed from a Central Asian nation. The outlet also claimed that Asadbek had recently become affiliated with ISKP, and stated that he had undergone a two-month training programme in Pakistan’s Balochistan province before arriving in Kandahar just ahead of the attack.


On 24 March 2024, Afghanistan International published additional information regarding Asadbek, revealing that he was born in Uzbekistan in 1999, and that had previously pursued studies in Russia. Citing Pakistani sources, the outlet contradicted the Taliban's assertion that the attacker had arrived in Afghanistan shortly before the attack, stating that Asadbek had resided in Afghanistan since 2022. AW was unable to independently verify this claim.

Pre-attack warnings  

On 29 February 2024, the Taliban reportedly apprehended a suspected ISKP affiliate from Kerala, India, in Kandahar. Although the Taliban refrained from issuing an official statement regarding the arrest, media reports surfaced indicating that Sana ul Islam had entered Afghanistan through Tajikistan with the intention of joining the ISKP faction. A photograph of his passport page circulated on social media platforms as proof of his identity.

Following this, on 19 March 2024, the Kandahar Government's Media and Information Centre reported on a meeting between the Governor and local security officials. The session aimed to enhance security measures for Ramadan, and was attended by police chiefs, district governors, and other security personnel. During the meeting, the Governor stressed the importance of maintaining regular checkpoints, patrols, and sentries during the meeting, potentially indicating a heightened threat of attack.   

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