ISIS Claims Deadly Attack in Afghanistan
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bomb attack that has left over 41 dead and dozens more injured. The attack was carried out Thursday on a Shia cultural center in Kabul, which is the capital of Afghanistan. The first blast was detonated by a suicide bomber who was sitting among a group of students in a lecture. Among the casualties, there were 2 children. Around 10:30 AM, an explosion a building in the basement in the west of the city. Another blast hit the Afghan News Agency, which operated an office in the same building. Two more explosions followed after the first two, both in the same building, but caused no injuries.
The lecture was on the 38th anniversary of the Russian invasion into Afghanistan. Ali Abbas Qul, a student who was in attendance at the lecture told reporters, “The hall was packed with the people when there was a blast at the back. People started running everywhere. Many lost consciousness. I lost my two friends and picked up their bodies. Many of the university students are still missing” After the medical services arrived to help the victims, the 3rd and 4th blasts were set off, targeting innocent people trying to help those in need.
Saed Qasem Rahmati, a former employee in the cultural center where the bombs went off, told reporters, “I was trying to help people who were injured and killed in the first two blasts when the third explosion hit”. He described the scene as complete and total chaos, with bodies litering the streets, many of them burned beyond recognition.
Amaaq News Agency, the Islamic State’s news organization, was quick to claim responsibility for the terror group. The attack capped off a wave of violence in the Afghanistan that had previously been fairly immune to these types of attacks until this year. Borhan Osman, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, tweeted “The 7th suicide bombing in the capital since 20 Oct, killing 130 people total, making ISIS a larger threat in Kabul than Taliban for this period, at least”.
In the past year, U.S. and allied forces have focused military efforts on weakening the Islamic States hold on the middle east. American intelligence assessment says fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, but now terrorist cells are popping up in other middle east countries. Their call to recruit new fighters is being answered in places like Kabul, with increaed terror activity taking place.
This increased activity is troubling for intelligence services around the world, as very little is known about ISIS operations in Kabul. It has received far less media attention, and have been able to operate relatively under the radar. A reporter for the Guardian spoke with an anonymous senior ISIS commander, who said, “Isis is continuously recruiting Taliban commanders and fighters, and deliberately challenging the Taliban’s dominance. The Taliban in the past have negotiated with the U.S. and the government in Kabul, diverting from the Jihad”.
As terror operations continue to mount, innocent civilians will continue to be targeted by senseless violence. The attacks today were an act of absolute terror, and contributes to a life of living in fear for the people of Kabul. Toby Lanzer, acting head of the mission in Afghanistan, said, “I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians. Today in Kabul, we have witnessed we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities”.