Thirty-three other people were injured, Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told The Washington Post. Eyewitnesses at the mosque and at a nearby cemetery put the death toll higher. An NGO managed hospital reported receiving 27 injured Wednesday night, including five children.
Celebration, uncertainty and fear grip Kabul a year later
The bombing is a blow to Taliban leaders, who earlier this week boasted of the increased security the group has brought to Kabul and the rest of the country. Monday marked a year since Taliban fighters took control of the capital, and although security has improved for most Afghans, the Islamic State remains active and deadly.
Past attacks claimed by the group have targeted Taliban members, places of worship and Afghan minority groups. Last week, a prominent Taliban cleric was killed by a suicide bomber at a seminary in Kabul.
By Thursday morning, Taliban fighters had blocked off the site of the blast in Kabul’s Khair Khana neighborhood.
“The killers and the perpetrators of the explosion will soon be arrested and punished,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said in a statement. Tweeter condemning the attack.
For years, the Taliban maintained security in areas of Afghanistan they controlled with a mix of effective intelligence networks, intimidation and harsh, often public punishment. But it’s unclear whether the group’s approach will remain effective when applied across the country, especially in cities.
In northern Kabul, residents said the cleric who was killed, Amir Mohammad Kabuli, was well known but not closely associated with any group.
Kabuli “was a great Islamic preacher and always spoke the truth,” said a resident of the neighborhood where the attack occurred. “I don’t know who targeted Mawlawi or why,” he said, using the cleric’s honorific.
The man spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
Taliban send hundreds of fighters to eastern Afghanistan to wage war on Islamic State
The Islamic State branch in Afghanistan is the only group that has posed a lasting threat to the Taliban’s grip on security, although its fighters no longer control the territory as they did before a massive state-led operation States in 2019 which pushed the group out of the country. eastern province of Nangahar.
Taliban authorities have repeatedly pledged to crush the group, employing tough tactics in areas where it is most active. But some reports indicate that the Taliban’s approach can only fuel Islamic State recruitment since the withdrawal of US forces.
Khan reported from Peshawar, Pakistan.