ISSN 2330-717X

Afghanistan: Soaring Violence In Kabul – Analysis

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By S. Binodkumar Singh*

On June 3, 2021, four civilians were killed and another four were injured in the Chahar Qala area of Kabul city when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast targeted a car.

On June 3, 2021, four civilians were killed and five others were injured after a blast hit a passenger car in Kot-e-Sangi area of Kabul city.

On June 3, 2021, two civilians, including a female journalist associated with Ariana News, Mina Khairi and her mother, were killed in an IED explosion in the Pul-e-Sukhta area of Kabul city.

No group has claimed responsibility for these explosions.

On June 1, 2021, at least 10 civilians were killed and 12 were wounded when explosions targeted two vehicles in the Sar-e-Karez area of Kabul city. The attack took place in a Hazara neighborhood where local workers were heading home. Islamic State claimed the back-to-back attacks on two minibuses.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Capital Region Kabul, which comprises of 15 Districts, has recorded at least 259 fatalities, including 206 civilians, 41 Security Force (SF) personnel, one terrorist and 11 ‘Not Specified’ persons in the current year, so far (data till June 13, 2021). During the corresponding period of 2020, Capital Region Kabul had recorded at least 128 fatalities, including 99 civilians, 10 SF personnel and 19 terrorists. Through 2020, fatalities totaled 291, including 214 civilians, 41 SF personnel, 32 terrorists and four in the ‘Not Specified’ category.

The Kabul District alone accounted for at least 206 fatalities, including 182 civilians, 17 SF personnel and seven ‘Not Specified’, in the current year (data till June 13, 2021). During the corresponding period of 2020, Kabul District recorded at least 213 fatalities, including 95 civilians, five SF personnel and 13 terrorists. Through 2020, the District recorded 241 fatalities, including 202 civilians, 20 SF personnel, 15 terrorists and four ‘Not specified’.

Some of the other prominent incidents recorded in Capital Region Kabul in 2021 include:

May 14: 12 worshipers, including the imam of the mosque, Mufti Numan, were killed and another 15 persons were injured in an explosion at the Sharif Haji Bakhshi Mosque in the Qala-e-Muradbek area of Shakar Dara District in Kabul Province.

May 8: 100 people were killed when three powerful bombs detonated outside the Sayed Ul-Shuhada High School in Kabul city, as students, many of them teenage girls, were leaving class. Another 160 persons were injured in the incident.

March 21: Five persons were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in hit a roadside bomb in the Chahar Asiab District of Kabul Province.

February 10: Five members of the Afghan Directorate of Protection Service were killed when they were escorting a United Nations (UN) envoy on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway in the Surobi District of Kabul Province.

In addition to the major attacks, a large number of targeted attacks against prominent persons have been reported from Capital Region Kabul. Some of the prominent persons killed in the region in the current year include:

April 24: Unidentified gunmen killed, Ahmad Fawad Amiri, a government employee at the Presidential Palace, in the Khawja Musafir area of Paghman District in Kabul Province.

April 23: A Government employee, Baryalai Tokhi, was killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen in the Rishkhor area of Kabul city.

April 7: Unidentified gunmen killed Mohammad Ismail Sahak, head of the administrative office of the National Statistics and Information Authority, in the Qala Wazir area of Paghman District in Kabul Province.

March 15: Three women including an employee of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, an employee of the Ministry of Education and an employee of the Ministry of Information and Culture, were killed in an explosion that targeted their bus in the Dahane-Bagh area in Kabul city.

February 18: Mubashir Muslimyar, a lecturer at Kabul University, was killed in an improvised explosive device blast in Kabul city.

February 2: Two people, including Mohammad Atif, the head of the non-governmental charity Jamiat-i-Islah, were killed in an explosion in Kabul city.

January 17: Unidentified gunmen opened fire, killing two female judges of the Supreme Court in Kabul city.

In early 2020, a creeping sense of insecurity spread through Kabul as magnetic bombs and execution-style assassinations claimed the lives of government, armed forces and state employees. Subsequently, the terrorists started targeting religious figures and Afghan intellectuals, particularly journalists and civil society activists.

On December 29, 2020, Interior Affairs Minister Massoud Andarabi stated that the Taliban, which had “major plans to overrun more areas in the provinces including Helmand” in October-November 2020, after having been prevented by the Security Forces in their designs, was “focusing on targeted killings in Kabul.” A group was created by the Taliban under the name Obaida to carry out targeted attacks.

According to a UN report released on March 12, 2021, “Between 13 November and 11 February, 88 attacks were carried out using magnetic improvised explosive devices, 43 of those in Kabul, including against prominent public figures.”

On February 22, 2021, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh asserted that the Taliban was using new tactics in planting landmines on Kabul’s roads and the Taliban had received special training from Pakistan to plant bombs.

Da’esh [IS-KP] had sleeper cells in other parts of Afghanistan, particularly Kabul, where Shahab al-Muhajir is based, along with its Deputy Salahuddin.

The Report further stated that, under Shahab al-Muhajir’s leadership and based on his expertise, Islamic State-Khorasan Province would continue to undertake terrorist attacks, predominantly in Kabul, provincial capitals and urban areas in the east of Afghanistan. Shahab al-Muhajir became the IS-KP chief in June 2020.

Thus, both the Taliban and IS-KP have intensified their activities in Kabul at a time when the withdrawal of international troops is in its final stages. According to current announcements, the US aims to complete its withdrawal by September 11, 2021.

Meanwhile, on June 11, 2021, worried that the Taliban will try to retake Kabul in the wake of the troop withdrawal, the Pentagon warned that it may bomb Taliban targets in such a situation.  US officials told The New York Times that strikes would be most likely if the fall of Kabul seemed imminent. It was less clear whether they would intervene to protect the country’s second largest city, Kandahar, while action to protect other areas seemed unlikely.

The security situation in Kabul is rapidly deteriorating and with no hopes of any positive outcome in any of the ongoing talks’ processes, Kabul is likely to see increasing violence in the days to come.

*S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

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SATP

SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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