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ISKP continue attacks in Kabul

Since November 13, AW have verified 18 ISKP-claimed attacks in Kabul.

The explosions that have taken place in late December and early January continue a trend of attacks in Kabul over the last two months, where both civilians and Taliban have been targeted.


The Taliban have previously declared that the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) are no longer a serious threat in Afghanistan, but the number of attacks that have taken place – particularly since the takeover – suggest otherwise.


Human Rights Watch have noted the particular threat of the group to the Hazara Shia community, who have been subject to many attacks, including suicide bombings that killed at least 72 people at the Sayed Abad mosque in Kunduz on October 8, and a bombing that killed at least 63 people at the Bibi Fatima mosque in Kandahar on October 15.


Since November 13, AW have verified 18 ISKP-claimed attacks in Kabul. A spate of attacks in mid-November to early December saw minority neighbourhoods and Taliban vehicles predominantly targeted.


Below are verified attacks from December 17 to January 1, which have followed a similar pattern of targeting both apparent civilians and Taliban.


Karte Parwan 3, PD4, December 17: In the afternoon of December 17, an explosion occurred in Karte Parwan 3 (PD4), Kabul. Afghan Witness (AW) geolocated the incident based on images and footage from social media. According to Kabul police spokesperson Mobeen Khan, the target of the attack was Maulvi Abdul Salam Abed, a prominent religious scholar in Afghanistan. The scholar and three acquaintances were superficially injured. Khan added that security officials were investigating the incident and that perpetrators will be brought to justice.


Figure: Geolocation of the IED attack on a vehicle. Using screenshots of a video posted on social media


The party of Maulvi Abdul Salam Abed, Jamiat-e Eslah, posted a statement condemning the attack in Kabul and called on the IEA to find and punish the culprits, and prevent such attacks in the future.


Jamiat-e Eslah is believed to be a local branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir (an international Islamist Party) with some ideological differences to the Taliban - they have often criticised the Taliban’s way of Jihad and governance. In the last few years, several leaders and influential supporters of Jamiat-e Eslah have been killed and targeted throughout Afghanistan, with the group and former government often accusing the Taliban of these attacks. In a video posted on social media, Mawlawi Abdul Salam Abed claimed that the Taliban, using multiple excuses, had not allowed him to make speeches in major mosques in Kabul since the takeover.


Reports later claimed Amanullah Safi, the former head of Kabul municipality's garbage collection department, who was injured in the attack on the vehicle carrying Maulvi Abdul Salam Abed, died from his injuries. This claim remains unconfirmed.


The attack was later claimed by ISKP on their Telegram channels, with a post stating: “By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate blew up a sticky bomb on a vehicle carrying an evil preacher loyal to the Taghut, in the city (Kabul) yesterday, which led to the killing of one of his companions and wounding him with two others, and praise be to God.”


Figure: ISKP post on telegram claiming the IED attack on Abdul Salam Abed.


Baraki Square, PD4, December 18: On December 18, an explosion was reported in the Baraki area (PD4) of Kabul. AW investigators were able to verify that the explosion took place close to Baraki square, in front of Rana University in Karte Parwan, PD4.




Figure: Geolocation of explosion close to Baraki square, Kabul.


No further details were published on social media about the attack, but it was later claimed by ISKP on their Telegram channels: “By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate targeted a vehicle of the infidels, in (Nabih 4) of the city (Kabul) yesterday, by detonating an explosive device, which led to its wrecking and killing and wounding 5 people on board, and praise be to God.”



Figure: ISKP claim posted on Telegram claiming the explosion on December 18.


Karte Say, PD6, December 23: In the afternoon of December 23, an incident occurred at the passport directorate in Karte Say (PD6), Kabul. AW geolocated the incident to near the entry checkpoint of the building.


According to Kabul police spokesperson Mobeen Khan, “an attack was prevented in front of the Passport Department. An assailant who tried to enter the Passport Department was shot and killed by military personnel of the Passport Department. No one was killed or injured in the attack.” AW was not able to verify these details.




Figure: Geolocation of incident at a checkpoint near the passport directorate using screenshot from video posted online.


Images of the attacker were posted on social media, which suggested an explosive belt or device had not been used. In a video report, the Kabul Police Spokesman and General Director of the passport directorate both confirmed that only the attacker was killed, claiming no other casualties.


Several days later, ISKP claimed the attack on their Telegram channels, contradicting the statements of Khan: “By the grace of God Almighty. Protect the Knights of Martyrdom, Brother (Talha the Pakistani) Barah Allah - Towards the straying of the A1 L militia at the gate of the "Passport Office" (district 3) in the city (Kabul) the day before yesterday. Where he detonated his explosive belt among them: This resulted in the killing and wounding of several militia members. Thanks to God.”


Figure: ISKP claim of the failed suicide attack against the passport directorate.


Al-Naba issue 319 featured an image of a man named as Talha al-Pakistani, described as the attacker of the passport office, suggesting it was indeed a targeted (failed) suicide attack. In contrast to the Taliban's statement, ISKP claimed the blast had caused multiple casualties. However, as stated above, AW has not confirmed these claims.



Image: ISKP suicide bomber responsible for the Passport Directorate attack.


Gul-e-Surkh, PD4, December 27: In the afternoon of December 27, an explosion occurred in Gul-e-Surkh (PD4), Kabul. AW geolocated the incident based on images and footage from social media. According to the Ministry of Interior, two Taliban members were injured in the roadside bombing.


Figure: Geolocation of the IED attack against a Taliban-operated vehicle


The attack was later claimed by ISKP on their Telegram channels stating: “By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive device on a vehicle of the apostate Taliban militia, in (District 4) in the city of (Kabul), which led to its damage and the killing and wounding of 6 members on board, and praise be to God.”



Figure: ISKP statement claiming the explosion against the Taliban operated vehicle.


Qala-e-Fathullah, PD10, December 28: In the evening of December 28, an explosion occurred in Qala-e-Fathullah (PD10), Kabul, allegedly targeting a vehicle carrying Taliban members. AW geolocated the incident to a road right next to Arya Town, near the office of the Ministry of Interior Affairs. No details were found about possible casualties.



Figure: Geolocation of the explosion near the Interior ministry


ISKP later claimed the attack on Telegram stating: “Caliphate soldiers blew up a sticky bomb on the vehicle of a polytheistic Rafida, in PD10 of Kabul City yesterday, which led to his death & the burning of his vehicle” - an indication that Shia civilians were the target.


Figure: ISKP statement claiming the explosion against the vehicle in PD10


Qalah Jawad, PD5 January 1: An explosion occurred in the Qalah Jawad neighbourhood of PD5, Kabul. Using an image of the explosion, AW was able to geolocate the explosion to the front of the Rabbini university, on Ustad Rabbini Road, Kabul. No further details were found about possible casualties.


Figure: Geolocation of the ISKP claimed explosion in PD 5 of Kabul.


A day later, the explosion was claimed by ISKP on their Telegram channels, stating: “By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive device on a vehicle of the apostate Taliban militia, in (District 5) in the city of (Kabul) yesterday, which led to its damage and the killing and wounding of those on board, praise be to God.”



Figure: ISKP statement claiming the explosion against a Taliban vehicle in PD5.


A second claim was posted about the same or a similar incident in the area stating: “Caliphate soldiers detonated an explosive device on a patrol of the Taliban in PD5 of Kabul City yesterday (Saturday), killing and wounding about 6 Taliban members.”



Figure: Second ISKP statement claiming the explosion against a Taliban vehicle in PD5.


Both claims appear to be referring to the same incident geolocated above, indicating a misreporting by ISKP.


Broader context


In the last couple of months, ISKP have targeted both apparent civilians and Taliban. Since November 13, AW investigators have geolocated and verified 18 ISKP-claimed attacks in Kabul. These verified attacks include 17 cases of IED/MIED explosions and one failed suicide bombing.



Figure: Overview of all verified ISKP-claimed attacks in Kabul.


Out of the 18 geolocated and verified attacks, nine were targeted against apparent civilians, mostly in west Kabul.


Figure: Geolocation of the nine verified ISKP-claimed attacks targeting apparent civilians in Kabul.


An additional nine attacks allegedly targeted Taliban-operated vehicles:


Figure: Geolocation of the nine verified ISKP-claimed attacks targeting Taliban-operated Vehicles in Kabul.


AW will continue to monitor ISKP activity in Afghanistan.

AW Reporter:

Afghan Witness

4 Jan 2022