Suicide bomber strikes voter registration office in Kabul

A suicide bomber struck a voter registration office in Kabul earlier today. More than 50 people were killed, including women and children, while over 100 others were injured in the bombing, according to the Afghan government.

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, identifying the bomber as Qari’ Umar al-Peshawari, a nom de guerre that implies he was from Peshawar, Pakistan. The so-called caliphate identified the victims as “Rafidi Mushrikin,” or Shiite polytheists. This is intended to portray the operation as sectarian in nature, as the Sunni jihadist group frequently targets Shiite civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The Islamic State has also consistently denounced democracy in its literature and statements, thereby making voting locations a target for the group’s “martyrs.”

The bombing continues a bloody trend in the Afghan capital this year.

Earlier this month, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that civilian casualties caused by “Anti-Government Elements” had increased by six percent during the first three months of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017. UNAMA found that there were “1,500 civilian casualties (511 deaths and 989 injured)” from Jan. to Mar. 2018, and two-thirds of these were attributed to the Taliban, the Islamic State’s Khorasan “province” (Wilayah Khorasan, or ISIS-K), and affiliated jihadists. While the Taliban’s violence accounts for most of the civilian casualties caused by “Anti-Government Elements,” the Islamic State’s Khorasan arm also contributed to the rising total.

The Islamic State’s jihadists regularly slaughter Shiite civilians in Kabul and elsewhere inside Afghanistan.

According to UNAMA, “direct attacks against the [Shiite] population” caused “154 civilian casualties (49 deaths and 105 injured)” during the first three months of 2018 and “nearly all” of these were attributed to “suicide and complex attacks claimed by” the Islamic State’s Khorasan province.

Indeed, UNAMA reported that “suicide and complex attacks” are now the leading cause of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. And such operations have been especially lethal this year.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s loyalists have hit locations inside Kabul more than once this year. Their targets in the Afghan capital have included a military academy and a shrine frequented by Shiite worshippers.

The Islamic State also regularly claims responsibility for small-scale attacks against Shiites in neighboring Pakistan.

Also earlier today, for example, the group’s Amaq News Agency stated that the Sunni jihadists had “assassinated” three Shiites during “an ambush” on the “outskirts” of Quetta. Citing Pakistani police officials, the Associated Press (AP) reported that two people were killed and a third wounded in the drive-by shooting. A Pakistani police chief told the AP that both men “were local officials in Shiite community organizations” and the terrorists fled on motorcycles.

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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