ISKP claim multiple attacks
The blasts come just days after multiple explosions in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul.
Between April 20-21, Afghanistan has been hit by a series of deadly attacks in Kabul, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif and Nangarhar.
The attacks follow multiple explosions on April 19 that targeted educational institutions in Dasht-e-Barchi, Kabul - an area which has a largely Hazara Shia population.
Between 20-21 April, five blasts were reported and were later claimed by the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP), including a large explosion on April 21 at a Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, which again saw Hazaras targeted.
Kabul, April 20
On Wednesday April 20, an explosion occurred in Kabul targeting a Taliban-operated vehicle. According to online sources, the explosion caused five casualties amongst Taliban members in the targeted vehicle. The explosion occurred shortly after noon and was geolocated by Afghan Witness (AW) investigators to the front of the Kandahari market in Police District 2 (PD2), in the Qua-e Markaz area in the centre of Kabul.
ISKP later claimed the attack on their Telegram channels, stating: “With the success of God Almighty, as part of the raid of revenge for the two sheikhs, the soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive device on a four-wheel drive vehicle for the intelligence of the apostate Taliban militia, in (Nabih 4) in the city of (Kabul), which led to its damage, killing and wounding 5 members on board, and praise be to God.”
Mazar-I-Sharif, April 21
On April 21, between 1200 and 1300 local time, a large explosion took place at the ‘Sih Dokan’ mosque in PD3, Mazar-i-Sharif. Initial reports claim that a bomb went off during the midday prayer.
The 'Sih Dokan' mosque is a Shia mosque located in the city centre of Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh Province, and is predominantly frequented by Shia Hazaras, who are an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan.
According to official numbers, 11 people were killed during the attack. These statistics have been subsequently published by several news agencies, including Reuters. However, according to a document allegedly shared with Aamaj News by the Abu Ali Sinah Balkhi hospital, at least 31 people were killed and 87 wounded, with final numbers likely to be higher. At the time of writing, the BBC is also reporting these figures.
In a video [GRAPHIC] that was filmed from inside the mosque in the aftermath of the bombing - seemingly during the emergency response - AW investigators were able to identify between 12 and 15 casualties. Images of other casualties were verified and geolocated by AW investigators to the Mazar-e Sharif Regional Hospital, 400 metres from the ‘Sih Dokan’ mosque.
AW investigators verified the incident and geolocated several pieces of footage shared on social media.
Further images posted on social media showed heavy damage to the facade of the mosque, as well as the presence of several emergency vehicles.
The attack was later claimed by ISKP on their Telegram channel, stating: “With the help of God Almighty, as part of the raid of revenge for the two sheikhs, the soldiers of the Caliphate managed to insert a booby-trapped bag inside a large temple for the polytheists, in the city (Mazar Sharif) in northern Afghanistan. Of the 100 rejecters, praise be to God.”
Kunduz, April 21
Following the attack in Mazar-i-Sharif, an explosion was reported in the ‘Sardawar’ neighbourhood in Kunduz city. Online reports suggest that an IED went off in a minivan which was allegedly used by employees from the nearby Kunduz airport. Other online sources suggest that the explosion took place during an aid distribution, although AW investigators have not been able to find any additional evidence for this. According to the BBC, four were killed and 18 injured by the blast, though journalist Bilal Sarwary tweeted that he was told by sources that 18 employees of the airport were killed.
As with the attack in Mazar-i-Sharif, the bombing was later claimed by ISKP on their Telegram channels, stating: “By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive device on a bus that was carrying a number of apostates working at (Kunduz) airport, in the (Sir Dura) area in (Kunduz), which resulted in killing and wounding about 20 apostates, and praise be to God.”
AW investigators were able to verify and geolocate a photo of the alleged scene.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, condemned the attacks on his twitter account the same day, stating: "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan condemns the bombings in Kabul, Balkh and Kunduz against civilians. These crimes are the work of circles that have nothing to do with Afghan society. We express our condolences to the families of the victims, to the martyrs of Paradise and to the wounded."
Kabul, April 21
On the same day, April 21, a fourth blast was reported. According to the BBC, the explosion was caused by a mine planted in the Niaz Beyk (PD5) area of Kabul and wounded two children. AW are working to verify the incident.
ISKP once again claimed the attack, stating: “By the grace of God Almighty, as part of the battle of revenge for the two sheikhs, the soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive device on a vehicle of the apostate Taliban militia, in (Nabih 5) in the city of (Kabul), which led to its damage, killing and wounding those in it, and praise be to God.”
In a tweet that was later deleted, Taliban spokesperson Khalid Zadran stated: “Two children were superficially injured in a mine explosion in the Fazel Beyk area of Kabul's Fazil Beyk district. Security forces have arrived at the scene and an investigation has been launched into the incident.”
Nangarhar, April 21
On April 21, there were further reports of a Taliban vehicle being hit by a roadside mine in eastern Nangarhar province. According to the BBC, four Taliban members were killed, and a fifth was wounded. AW has not yet been able to verify the attack.
ISKP claimed an IED/MIED explosion in Khogyani, Nangarhar, stating: “By the grace of God Almighty, as part of the battle of revenge for the two sheikhs, the soldiers of the Caliphate detonated an explosive device on a vehicle of the apostate Taliban militia, in (Khujiani) area in (Nangarhar), which led to its destruction, killing 4 members and wounding a leader, and praise be to God.”
Combined with a string of attacks in early April, this week’s explosions cast doubt over the Taliban’s previous attempts to assure the national and international community that the ISKP are under control and will not pose a threat to security.
While it is common in Afghanistan for conflict and clashes to dwindle during the winter months, the increase in attacks in Spring aligns with what is traditionally considered the start of ‘fighting season’ in the country.
21 Apr 2022