Bomb blasts in Afghanistan's ISIS-K heartland kills two

Bomb blasts in Afghanistan's ISIS-K heartland kills two

September 18, 2021

Bomb blasts in Afghanistan’s ISIS-K heartland kills two and injures up to 20 more in first deadly attack since US and British troops withdrew

  • Three explosions rocked the eastern provincial capital of Jalalabad on Saturday
  • The bomb blasts, targeting Taliban vehicles, killed two and injured up to 20 more
  • No immediate responsibility claim, but the blast happened in ISIS-K’s heartland

Bomb blasts in Afghanistan’s ISIS-K heartland has killed two and injured up to 20 more in the first deadly attack since US and British withdrew last month. 

Three explosions rocked the eastern provincial capital Jalalabad on Saturday in attacks targeting Taliban vehicles.  

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Islamic State militants, headquartered in the area, are enemies of the Taliban.   

Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K claimed last months’ bomb attack on Kabul Airport that killed more than 170, including 13 US Marines. 

Three injured in the blast were civilians and 16 were Taliban fighters, some of whom are in a critical condition.

Also on Saturday a sticky bomb exploded in the capital Kabul, wounding two. The target of the bomb was not immediately clear. 

The Taliban are facing major economic and security problems as they attempt to govern, and a growing challenge by IS insurgents would further stretch their resources.  

Bomb blasts in Afghanistan’s ISIS-K heartland has killed two and injured up to 20 more in the first deadly attack since US and British withdrew last month

Three explosions rocked the eastern provincial capital Jalalabad on Saturday in attacks targeting Taliban vehicles, though most of the victims were civilians according to local media (pictured, Nangarhar Regional Specialization Hospital where victims are being treated) 

In Kabul, a new sign was up outside the women’s affairs ministry, announcing it was now the ‘Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.’

Staff of the World Bank’s $100 million Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program, which was run out of the Women’s Affairs Ministry, were escorted off the grounds Saturday, said program member Sharif Akhtar, who was among those being removed.

Mabouba Suraj, who heads the Afghan Women’s Network, said she was astounded by the flurry of orders released by the Taliban-run government restricting women and girls. 

 Works in the Afghan capital covered the women’s ministry signs for a replacement in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, reading ‘Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’

Meanwhile, the Taliban-run education ministry asked boys from grades 7-12 back to school Saturday along with their male teachers but there was no mention of girls in those grades returning to school. 

Previously, the Taliban’s minister of higher education minister, had said girls would be given equal access to education, albeit in gender-segregated settings.

‘It is becoming really, really troublesome. … Is this the stage where the girls are going to be forgotten?’ Suraj said. ‘I know they don’t believe in giving explanations, but explanations are very important.’

Suraj speculated that the contradictory statements perhaps reflect divisions within the Taliban as they seek to consolidate their power, with the more pragmatic within the movement losing out to hard-liners among them, at least for now.

Statements from the Taliban leadership often reflect a willingness to engage with the world, open public spaces to women and girls and protect Afghanistan’s minorities. But orders to its rank and file on the ground are contradictory. Instead restrictions, particularly on women, have been implemented.

Suraj, an Afghan American who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 to promote women’s rights and education, said many of her fellow activists have left the country.

She said she stayed in an effort to engage with the Taliban and find a middle ground, but until now has not been able to get the Taliban leadership to meet with activists who have remained in the country to talk with women about the way forward.

‘We have to talk. We have to find a middle ground,’ she said. 

Girls were excluded from returning to secondary school in Afghanistan on Saturday, after the country’s new Taliban rulers ordered only boys and male teachers back to the classroom

‘All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,’ a statement said ahead of classes resuming Saturday. The statement, issued late Friday, made no mention of women teachers or girl pupils

Also on Saturday, an international flight by Pakistan’s national carrier left Kabul’s airport with 322 passengers on board and a flight by Iran’s Mahan Air departed with 187 passengers on board, an airport official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said the two flights departed Saturday morning. The identities and nationalities of those on board were not immediately known.

The international flights were the latest to depart Kabul in the past week as technical teams from Qatar and Turkey have worked to get the airport up to standard for international commercial aircraft.

A Qatar Airways flight on Friday took more Americans out of Afghanistan, according to Washington’s peace envoy, the third such airlift by the Mideast carrier since the Taliban takeover and the frantic US troop pullout from the country.

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