Islamic State claims responsibility for bombing outside Afghan ministry in Kabul

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the gate outside of the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Kabul earlier today. At least 13 people were killed and more than two dozen others wounded in the blast, according to TOLOnews.

The attack is the latest in a series of operations launched by both the Taliban and the Islamic State’s regional arm against government institutions in the Afghan capital and elsewhere.

On June 4, an Islamic State suicide bomber struck a gathering of the Afghan Ulema Council (AUC) in Kabul. The AUC had just ruled that “martyrdom” operations were unIslamic and that the current jihad against the government is illegal. The Taliban denounced both rulings, but distanced itself from the bombing.

On May 30, a 10-man (or adolescent) team of jihadis assaulted the offices of Afghanistan’s interior ministry in Kabul. The raid was thwarted by security forces before the terrorists could do more damage. The US military initially blamed the operation on the Taliban and its subgroup, the Haqqani Network. However, the Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan claimed responsibility for that attack as well, releasing a picture of the jihadists who purportedly carried it out.

Terror networks have operated in an around the Afghan capital for years, with the Haqqani Network conducting some of the most sophisticated and devastating raids. Although the al Qaeda-allied Haqqanis and other Taliban-affiliated jihadis continue to plot inside Kabul, as well as in the area surrounding the city, the Islamic State’s Wilayah Khorasan (or Khorasan “province”) has claimed an increasing number of lethal operations over the past two years. The so-called caliphate’s men have built a robust network for recruiting and fighting. They have likely poached from pre-existing groups in the area, while also indoctrinating new followers.

One of the worst attacks in Kabul this year occurred on Apr. 22, when a suicide bomber hit a voter registration center. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing, portraying the explosion as an assault on “polytheist” Shiites in the city.

A few weeks later, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a special report on election-related violence. The Apr. 22 bombing was determined to be “deadliest single election-related attack documented by UNAMA to date,” as the bomber detonated himself “amongst a large crowd of civilian men, women and children” who were “gathered outside a tazkira distribution centre located in Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood.” Sixty (60) people were killed and more than 130 others injured. “The blast also damaged many vehicles and nearby buildings, with windows blown out on adjacent buildings,” UNAMA reported.

According to UNAMA’s year-end report for 2017, Kabul suffers disproportionately from “suicide and complex attacks” when compared to other areas of Afghanistan. This demonstrates that the jihadis aim to destabilize the government inside its own capital by showing civilians that their own institutions cannot protect them.

There were approximately “1,612 civilian casualties (440 deaths and 1,172 injured)” from “suicide and complex attacks” inside Kabul in 2017. This was “17 per cent more than in 2016,” and the casualties in Kabul were “70 per cent of all civilian casualties from these tactics” across all of Afghanistan in 2017, UNAMA found.

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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