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Kabul still very vulnerable to terror attacks.

December 16, 2022

On Monday December 12, a terror attack, including a suicide bomber, targeted a hotel in Kabul frequented by Chinese workers.  The attack was claimed by Islamic State and this seems to be the most likely explanation.  The building caught fire for a period.  The number of casualties are still unclear.  China has admitted to some injuries amongst its citizens.  But neither the Taliban nor Chinese regimes are known for openly sharing information.  One hospital reported three dead and 18 injured.  In other security incidents, the Taliban have prevented journalists from accessing the area, interviewing witnesses and assessing likely casualties. On some occasions after incidents the Taliban have reportedly beaten journalists to prevent the Taliban losing control of the media narrative.

The attack on Chinese workers came only days after Chinese diplomats held talks with the Taliban regime.  China has been a serious investor in Afghanistan since 2001, notably with the Aynak copper mines, and may yet play a part in boosting the Taliban’s political credibility and developing the Afghan economy.  The Taliban cannot afford to embarrass the Chinese regimeThe Russian embassy had recently experienced a nearby explosion.  On 13 December China appeared to have advised its citizens to leave Afghanistan.

The city is still very vulnerable to terrorist attacks.  This time the Taliban have the role of defensive, anti-terrorist security forces, protecting the people and infrastructure of the city against insurgent groups such as Islamic State.  The Taliban security forces do not look particularly capable and protecting a large city is extremely hard – as the international community found out over a period of twenty years while the Taliban were the prime assailants.  International groups – NGOs, aid agencies, embassies, diplomats and associated infrastructure will remain viable targets for Islamic State.  The Taliban will struggle to match this terror threat and will give a harsh response to anyone who points out Taliban failings – journalists in particular.

Ethnic groups and minorities are also at risk from terror attacks.  Islamic State is believed to be deliberately targeting the Shia Muslim Hazara community in Kabul (and elsewhere).  From Islamic State’s perspective, anything that undermines the Taliban’s diplomatic, economic and social position is a worthwhile target.  Triggering a new internal conflict between ethnicities is a high priority for Islamic State.

A non-exhaustive list since 2021:

15 October 2022: “News sources reported Saturday evening that the blast was heard from the second security district of Kabul.  Kabul Police Command spokesman confirmed the blast and announced that the explosion occurred next to the wall of a security checkpoint in the second security district.”[1]

30 September 2022: “A suicide bomb attack on an education center in Kabul has killed at least 25 people, most of whom are believed to be young women, in the latest sign of the deteriorating security situation in the Afghan capital.”[2]

5 August 2022: “The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for a deadly blast on Friday in a Shi’ite residential area in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.  Police said at least eight people were killed and 18 wounded in the blast.”[3]

19 April 2022: “At least six people have been killed and 11 others wounded, including students, in a suspected twin suicide bombing outside a boys’ school in western Kabul.”[4]

8 February 2022: “An explosion was reported in the Khair Khana area of Kabul late Feb. 8. Local news sources indicate the blast was caused by a bomb that targeted a Taliban vehicle. No casualties have been reported due to the explosion, though officials may provide updates in the coming hours. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.”[5]

16 January 2022: “A child has died and four Taliban soldiers wounded after a bomb blast in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, the ministry of interior affairs has said.  A roadside mine targeted an Islamic Emirate military vehicle on Sunday in Kabul’s Bagrami district…”[6]

3 January 2022: “An explosion took place in limits of the 11th police district of Kabul on Monday morning, an official said.  Aqil Jan Azam, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said: ‘A landmine went off close to the 11th police district but caused no life or financial losses.’”[7]

17 December 2021:A bomb blast targeted the vehicle of a religious scholar, Mawllawi Abdul Salam Abid…three companions suffered slight injuries…the explosion was due to a magnetic bomb blast.  The incident occurred on Friday afternoon in the Parwan-e-Si area of PD4 of Kabul city.”[8] 

12 December 2021: “The Taliban fighters shot killed a boy who was attending an engagement function in Kabul…Eyewitnesses…said, they were directed to stop for check post and they did but were shot at in the next one.”[9]

10 December 2021: “Two explosions occurred in western Kabul city on Friday afternoon in which two people were killed and four were injured.”[10]

4 December 2021: “A bomb blast rocked Police District 4 of Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, on Saturday with no casualties confirmed, Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti said…This is the third blast in Kabul since Nov. 30.”[11]

2 December 2021: “An armored vehicle of the Islamic Emirate was targeted by a sticky bomb on Thursday morning in Kabul’s Police District 4, General Mobin, spokesman of Kabul security department, told TOLOnews.”[12]

30 November 2021: “At least two people were injured in a blast that occurred in Kabul’s Police District 6 on Tuesday morning, officials said.  General Mobin, spokesman of Kabul security department, said the explosion was due to a mine placed in the area.  No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion.”[13]

17 November 2021: “At least four civilians were killed and two others wounded in a bomb attack targeting a public mini-bus in the western part of Kabul, capital of Afghanistan on Wednesday, an eyewitness said.”[14]

15 November:At least two people were wounded in a roadside bomb blast that occurred on Monday morning in Police District 5 of Kabul city, officials said. Initially there was a report of no casualties, but the spokesman for the Kabul security department, General Mobin Khan, confirmed that two people were injured in the blast.[15]

13 November 2021: “A magnetic bomb attached to a passenger minivan exploded in a heavily Shi’ite area of the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, causing an unknown number of casualties…One Taliban official…said six people had been killed and at least seven wounded in the blast in the Dasht-e Barchi area of western Kabul.”[16]

2 November 2021: “More than 20 people have been killed and at least 16 injured in a gun and bomb assault on a military hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul.  An affiliate of the Islamic State group, IS-K, later said it had carried out the attack.”[17]

29 October 2021: “Gunmen on a motorcycle brandished small arms and fired on a broadcast journalist in his car in the Afghan capital of Kabul, lightly wounding him.”[18]

20 October 2021: Interior Ministry Spokesman Qari Saeed Khosti confirmed that an explosion took place in PD3 in Kabul on Wednesday morning, adding that a grenade was hurled at security forces in the Dehmazang area…However eyewitnesses claim four people were wounded in the incident.”[19]

3 October 2021: “At least five civilians were killed in a bomb blast at the entrance to a Kabul mosque Sunday, a Taliban official said, describing the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since U.S. forces left at the end of August.  There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Islamic State extremists…”[20]

22 September 2021: “Unidentified gunmen have shot dead a child and injured his father in limits of the 12th police district of Kabul.”[21]

30 August 2021: “The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Kabul airport on Monday as the United States rushes to complete its withdrawal from Afghanistan.”[22] 

26 August 2021: “The Islamic State in Khorosan Province (ISKP) has claimed responsibility for the deadly explosions which occurred on Thursday evening, local time, amid ongoing evacuations from the country in the wake of the Taliban takeover.  More than 160 people, including 13 United States troops, were killed, according to media reports.”[23]
























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