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ISKP attacking minorities in Afghanistan

March 25, 2020

Summary: Islamic State in Afghanistan has conducted three attacks in Kabul within three weeks.  It is trying to act as “spoiler” to the Afghan govt/Taliban/US government peace efforts.  ISKP is not popular in Afghanistan and its military weakness will see it rely on terrorist attacks.  Ethnic and religious minorities will likely be singled out as Islamic State tries to trigger sectarian violence and instability across the country.  For the moment, the Taliban look to be avoiding mas casualty attacks and targeting international forces.  But the violence continues.

Security personnel arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday.It looks as if Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Islamic State group operating inside Afghanistan, is attempting to push itself forward as the “spoiler” during the extremely delicate stage that the Afghan government, the Taliban and the United States have reached.

ISKP has claimed three significant attacks in Kabul after the US/Taliban peace deal was signed on 29 February:

5 March: attack on a Shia Hazara ceremony commemorating the death of Abdul Ali Mazari, killing around 32

9 March: rockets launched during the inauguration ceremony of President Ghani, one landing inside the Presidential compound

25 March: suicide bombers and gunmen attack Sikh place of worship, killing at least 25

ISKP is not party to any peace deal in Afghanistan.  It seems to be trying to disrupt the peace process and inject violent instability.  Of note is that two of these three attacks have specifically targeted minority groups, Sikhs and Hazaras. A collapse into sectarian violence at this time would suit ISKP’s goals.  After significant military reversals at the end of last year, ISKP needs to undermine the Taliban and the Afghan government.

It seems as if the Taliban are now refraining from launching indiscriminate mass casualty attacks and from targeting the US.  But the fighting has not stopped.  Provincial levels operations are still ongoing.  Although statistics of violence levels in a few months time are likely to show violence significantly dropping, the violence has not ended and will remain a tool for the Taliban to signal its intent and resolve.  These trends are likely to continue.   Similarly, expect ISKP to attempt more provocative and destabilising attacks, singling out minorities, such as Hazaras, Sikhs and Hindus.












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