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ISKP carry out second attack on Loya Jirga in Kabul

A day after the first attack, ISKP targeted the event with at least four rockets, open source analysis shows.


12 Jul 2022

On July 1, a day after the first attack on June 30, Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed a second attack against the Loya Jirga, where over 3000 religious scholars, including the majority of senior leaders within the Taliban, were gathering. Up to six rockets were fired from the back of a vehicle.

According to an article by the Independent Persian, several of the missiles, reportedly fired at 1700 local time, hit the site of the Loya Jirga resulting in panic among the attendees and causing a number of participants to skip the third and last day of the meeting. Sources of the news outlet claim that the first missile hit the area where Taliban vehicles were parked. The second missile hit near the Kabul Polytechnic University entrance, and the third hit a residential apartment in the Karte area, close to the venue. A similar testimony was given to RFI, a French news agency, by local residents who claimed that, in addition to hearing the sound of gunshots and explosions, several rockets were launched towards the Loya Jirga hall on July 1 from Police District 6.

Several reports of explosions in Kabul were shared online, with one user specifically mentioning hearing three blasts. Salam Watandar, an Afghan radio network, reported that Khalid Zadran, the Kabul Police Spokesman, confirmed the blasts, however claimed they were due to the explosion of a gas canister and a subsequent fire. This statement, effectively denying an attack, was carried by multiple media outlets.

A video shared by a Twitter user on July 1, clearly shows four missiles being fired with the caption indicating that they were aimed towards the Loya Jirga hall. Afghan Witness (AW) investigators were able to geolocate images of the vehicle used to launch the rockets to the Chahar Qala-e-Chahardihi Road in Police District 6, approximately 4.5 kilometres south of the Loya Jirga venue.

Figure: Geolocation of images showing burned out car used by ISKP to launch rockets against the Loya Jirga gathering. Kabul, PD 6. [34.495984, 69.115117]

Images posted on social media as part of ISKP’s claim of the attack showed the rocket launch system used, a Chinese type 63 launching system. This is a 6-tube launcher that fires 106.7mm High Explosive (HE) rockets which appear to be fired using an electronic ignition fuse.

Figure: 6-tube launcher set-up in the trunk of a burned-out vehicle used by ISKP to launch the rockets

The type 63-2 pattern HE artillery rockets have a maximum range of eight kilometres. The launch site was geolocated 4.5 kilometres south of the Loya Jirga event location, putting it well within range. While the available footage can only confirm four rockets being fired, it is likely all six were launched at the site.

Figure: Map overview showing location of Loya Jirga gathering, the rocket launch site, and the range of the HE artillery rockets

As with the first attack the day prior, it does not appear to have caused significant casualties or damage, but the psychological impact of hitting the gathering twice is significant, showing ISKP have the capability and freedom to hit high profile targets within Kabul, despite the Taliban’s best security efforts.

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