- It is the first attack by the group in an urban center since the Taliban signed peace deals with the US in February.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the Taliban for two earlier attacks.
- US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zamly Khalilzad, has said that the US government blames IS for the two attacks.
At least five people have been killed and dozens injured in an attack in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province Thursday. It is alleged that an army base was the target for the attack, but the truck filled with explosives blew up before it reached its target. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a retaliation to the government’s statement that blamed the group for the attacks on Tuesday.
It is the first attack by the group in an urban center since the Taliban signed peace deals with the US in February, which was to allow US and NATO troops to leave the country. The attack came a day after two attacks that left dozens dead, and prompted President Ashraf Ghani to order for the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban and other militant groups. The Taliban condemned the attacks and denied being responsible for both through its spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid.
President Ghani had condemned the attacks on innocent citizens, and ordered the resumption of offensive attacks since the militants had refused to heed to calls of reducing the violence and embracing peace. President Ghani said:
“In order to provide security for public places and to thwart the attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terror groups, I’m ordering Afgan security forces to switch from an active defense mode to an offensive and to resume their operations against the enemies.”
On Tuesday, three attackers stormed a hospital, hurling grenades and shooting at anyone. The attack killed 24 people, including mothers, nurses and two infants. The interior ministry said that all the three attackers were killed by police. The maternity wing of the hospital in Kabul is run by Doctors Without Borders, or Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF).
The hospital’s neighborhood is home to a large community of Hazaras, a minority of Shia Muslims who are prone to attacks by the Islamic State. IS declared war on the minority group years ago, and in 2018, in an attack in the area, it killed dozens of students who were taking university entrance exams.
In a separate attack on the same day, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a crowd gathered for the burial ceremony of a police officer, Sheikh Akram, killing 32 people, according to the provincial health ministry spokesperson Zaher Adel.
The US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zamly Khalilzad, has said that the US government blames IS for the two attacks. He said that he believes that the IS, a rival of the Taliban, is trying to block the peace deals between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Nangarhar, but no group has claimed responsibility for the hospital attack.
Since the peace deal signed in February, the Taliban has ceased attacking US and NATO troops, but have continued to attack government security forces. The US has been trying to get the militant group and the government to start negotiation, but the efforts have been hampered by squabbles among the two groups.