Islamic State suicide bomber strikes NATO convoy in Kabul

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has claimed responsibility for a bombing that targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan earlier today. A jihadist detonated his vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near a security checkpoint in the Afghan capital, close to where the US Embassy is located. Amaq released a photo of the bomber (seen above), as well as a statement concerning the operation.

Amaq reported that eight people were killed in the blast. According to Reuters, initial casualty reports indicate that all eight of the deceased were civilians and more than two dozen others were wounded.

US officials say that no American servicemen were killed in the bombing. “A coalition MRAP convoy was targeted by an improvised explosive device in Kabul this morning about 8:00 am,” US Navy Captain William K. Salvin, the spokesman for US Forces – Afghanistan, said in a statement. “Three coalition service members were wounded,” according to Salvin, but all of them “sustained non-life threatening wounds, are in stable condition, and are currently being treated at coalition medical facilities.”

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for other attacks in Kabul since the beginning of the year.

On Feb. 7, a suicide bomber struck near Afghanistan’s supreme court, killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens more. Amaq News, which is one of the so-called caliphate’s main propaganda arms, identified the jihadist responsible as a Tajik fighter.

Then, on Mar. 8, a suicide assault team massacred patients and employees at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul. The hospital is Afghanistan’s largest medical facility for members of the armed forces. Dozens were killed or wounded. Amaq released a picture of the jihadists who carried out the attack, as well as a statement of responsibility. The terrorists reportedly dressed like doctors or other hospital employees in order to sow confusion. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State suicide team assaults military hospital in Kabul.]

Another Islamic State suicide bomber struck in Kabul on Apr. 12, killing several people and wounding others. Amaq News also claimed that operation on behalf of the self-declared caliphate, saying the jihadist attacked a checkpoint near the presidential building.

The Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan “province”) has also repeatedly targeted Afghan Shiites in Kabul.

According to a Mar. 30 report published by the United Nations, there was “an increase in attacks carried out by” the Khorasan province in 2016, as the jihadists struck “civilian government administrations, tribal elders and places of worship.” The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that Baghdadi’s loyalists were responsible for “899 civilian casualties (209 dead and 690 injured)” in 2016, as compared to “82 civilian casualties (39 dead and 43 injured) in 2015.” UNAMA attributed this rise in civilian casualties to Wilayah Khorasan’s “deliberate sectarian attacks against the minority Shia Muslim community” and noted that the group had “claimed responsibility for three separate attacks on 23 July, 11 October and 21 November 2016 that targeted members of the [Shia] community living in Kabul.”

The US and its allies have stepped up their operations against Wilayah Khorasan since the beginning of the year. Three American servicemen were killed in April during raids launched against the group’s stronghold in the eastern Nangarhar province. The US dropped the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB), on a tunnel complex maintained by Baghdadi’s followers and also targeted the organization’s emir last month.

While the Islamic State’s men have been attempting to hold off the US-led forces in Nangarhar, they have also been fighting their jihadist rivals in the Taliban.

For additional background information on the Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: 2 American service members killed fighting Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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