The Islamic State’s Khorasan province claimed credit for a suicide assault that targeted a customs office in the capital of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar yesterday. At least nine people were killed and more than 30 more were wounded in the latest attack by the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan.
The jihadists opened the attack by detonating a vehicle laden with explosives outside the main gate of the customs finance office in Jalalabad. Three fighters then entered the breach caused by the explosion and engaged security forces inside the compound before they were killed, according to TOLONews.
The attack was first claimed by Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the Islamic State. The so-called caliphate then issued a longer statement saying that identifying the driver of the suicide vehicle as “brother Talha al-Khurasani.” Then, “brothers Usamah al-Kashmiri, Abu Baker al-Afridi and ‘Abdullah al-Khurasani … stormed into the headquarters of the ministry equipped with their explosive vests, rifles, rocket projectiles and various ammunitions.” The group claimed that more than 100 Afghan security and intelligence personnel were killed or wounded in the initial explosion and the four hours of fighting that followed within the financial compound.
Despite an intensive US and Afghan military campaign that targeted the Islamic State’s strongholds in Nangarhar province over the past two years, the group has maintained bases in the eastern province and has expanded its influence into Kunar province. Meanwhile, it has continued to target Afghan security personnel and government institutions in Kabul and Jalalabad. Over the past three weeks, the Islamic State has successfully executed two other major suicide attacks in Kabul.
On April 30, an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated his vest outside a security checkpoint for the National Directorate of Security in Kabul. After journalists gathered to cover the blast, a second suicide bomber, disguised as a reporter, detonated among the group. Reporters Without Borders described the incident as “the deadliest attack on the media since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.” At least 25 people, including nine reporters, were killed in the dual blasts.
On April 22, an Islamic State suicide bomber killed more than 50 people, including women and children, in an attack on a voter registration office in the Afghan capital.
Security in Afghanistan has progressively deteriorated since the US and NATO transitioned security responsibilities to the Afghan government. In a report issued in April, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) noted that civilian casualties rose during the first three months of this year. The Taliban, which has a much larger footprint in Afghanistan than the Islamic State, was responsible for 50 percent of the casualties during this period, while the Islamic State was responsible for 11 percent, according to the report.