Wednesday, Oct 04, 2023

Afghanistan: Seven Killed, 41 Injured In Blast Near Mosque In Kabul

Afghanistan: Seven Killed, 41 Injured In Blast Near Mosque In Kabul

This is the latest bombing in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in recent months in which dozens of people have been killed. Terrorist group ISIS is generally understood to be behind such attacks.

Taliban personnel deployed near the site of blast in Kabul on Friday
Taliban personnel deployed near the site of blast in Kabul on Friday AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

At least seven people were killed and 41 were injured in an explosion near Wazir Akbar Khan mosque in Afghanistan's capital Kabul. 

A column of black smoke rose into the sky and shots rang out several minutes after the explosion near the mosque, located in a high-profile diplomatic neighbourhood of the Afghan capital. 

Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the blast targeted worshippers leaving the mosque after Friday prayers. 

This is the latest explosion in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in recent weeks in which dozens of people have been killed. Explosions have been recorded in capital Kabul and elsewhere in the country too. 

It was a car bomb. Interior Minister Spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said the vehicle with explosives was parked by the roadside near the mosque and detonated as worshippers were coming out after Friday prayers. He added that an investigation was underway, with police at the site. 

The Wazir Akbar Khan mosque was also the target of a bomb blast in 2020 in which two people had died, including the mosque's prayer leader.

The latest in the series of blasts

The Friday's blast in Kabul is the latest in the series of attacks in Afghanistan in which dozens of people have been killed.

In July, two civilians were killed in a blast in Kabul International Cricket Stadium during a league match. It was said to be a hand grenade attack. Thirteen people were also wounded in the attack.

In August, a bomb blast in a mosque in Kabul killed 21 people and injured 33, according to BBC. The mosque's emir was also among those killed.

On September 2, an explosion in a mosque in Herat killed 18 people, including a leading pro-Taliban cleric. At least 21 people were injured. The blast in Herat also targeted Friday prayers. 

On September 5, an explosion outside the Embassy of Russia in Kabul killed two embassy staffers. The attack was a major embarrasment for the Taliban regime as it showed to the world that it's not able to provide security even within the high profile diplomatic enclave. 

Taliban failing to provide security

The string of blasts in Afghanistan have highlighted the Talian's failure to ensure security in the country. 

The continued attacks also highlight that the Taliban faces a rising challenge from groups such as the ISIS. While formal claims of responsibilities are rare, the bombings are usually believed to be carried out by the terrorist group ISIS through its regional affiliate ISKP. 

Moreover, the attacks in Kabul, and particular the bombing at the Russian embassy, highlighted the weak hold of Taliban even in the capital.

Faran Jeffery, Deputy Director of think tank Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism, said on Twitter that the Russian embassy bombing sent two messages.

"One, Taliban cannot even secure Kabul on their own, let alone rest of the country. Two, any foreign country daydreaming about having its own little separate paradise in Afghanistan should think twice," said Jeffrey.

Russia is among the few countries to have kept its embassy functional in Kabul after tha Taliban takeover of the country. Though it has not recognised the Taliban regime, it is in touch with its officials. 

Talian's tussle with ISIS

The Taliban has been engaged in a conflict with terrorist group ISIS from before its takeover of Afghanistan last year.

While Taliban is understood to be in league with Al-Qaeda, evident by the presence of its late chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, it continues to be in a power tussle with the ISIS, which is opposed to the Taliban's vision.

The ISIS has previously targeted mosques and worshippers, and especially members of Afghanistan's minority Shias in attacks. 

The Taliban is a nationalist organisation whose ambitions are limited to having an Islamic state in Afghanistan. The ISIS, on the other hand, has global ambitions and aims to create a global Islamic state which it calls "Caliphate". The Taliban and ISIS are also ideologically different.

Think tank Wilson Center expplains: "ISIS-K subscribes to the Jihadi-Salafism ideology — and plays up the ‘purity’ of its anti-idolatry credentials. The Taliban, on the other hand, subscribe to an alternative Sunni Islamic sectarian school, the Hanafi madhhab, which ISIS-K regards as deficient. The two groups also differ over the role of nationalism. ISIS-K fiercely rejects it, which runs counter to the Afghan Taliban’s aims of ruling over Afghanistan."

(With AP inputs)


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