October 4, 2021
ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said Monday their security forces had destroyed an Islamic State Khorasan Province cell in Kabul and killed all the militants there.
The overnight raid came just hours after a bombing outside the capital’s main Eid Gah mosque on Sunday killed at least eight Afghan civilians and wounded at least 20.
There was no claim of responsibility for the mosque attack nor did the Taliban say their operation against the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, also known as IS-Khorasan, was a response to the deadly mosque bombing.
“The Daesh base was completely destroyed and all of Daesh members inside were killed as a result of this decisive and successful operation by (Taliban) special forces,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief Taliban spokesman, announced early Monday. He used the local name for IS-Khorasan.
Kabul residents had confirmed heavy clashes in the Khairkhana area, saying they had heard massive explosions and gunfire during the night.
Taliban sources claimed several suicide bombers were inside the IS-Khorasan cell and were “neutralized by their own vests” during the clashes.
IS-Khorasan has not commented on the Taliban’s claims. The terrorist outfit has claimed to have carried out a series of deadly bombings in recent days against Taliban fighters elsewhere in Afghanistan.
Sunday’s bombing in Kabul was apparently targeted at a gathering offering a memorial service for Mujahid’s mother but the Taliban spokesman and his colleagues escaped unhurt.
It was the first such attack in the Afghan capital since late August, when an IS-Khorasan suicide bomber killed around 200 people, including 13 U.S. service members, near the Kabul airport. The majority of the victims had crowded outside the airport gates to secure seats on U.S.-run evacuation flights following the Taliban takeover of the city on August 15.
The Taliban have since established their control over Afghanistan barring a few pockets of armed resistance in the northern Panjshir province led by an opposition leader, Ahmad Massoud.
The security challenges facing the new Taliban government come amid a worsening humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan, with food prices jumping more than 50 percent for multiple reasons.
The international community has for now ignored Taliban calls for granting legitimacy to their rule, citing human rights and other concerns, which is discouraging countries from directly engaging with the Islamist group.
The Taliban do not have access to $9 billion held in frozen assets, mostly deposited with the U.S. federal reserve, while the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have suspended Kabul’s access to their programs.
Moreover, the withdrawal of foreign forces and civilians from the country has deprived many Afghans of important sources of income.
“Afghanistan is experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis and a socio-economic collapse is looming, which would be dangerous for Afghans, the region and international security,” the European Union Foreign policy chief warned on Sunday.
“If the situation continues and with winter approaching, this risks turning into a humanitarian catastrophe,” Josep Borrell wrote in a blog post, adding that this could trigger mass migration into neighboring countries.
Borrell urged the Taliban to take steps that will enable the international community to assist the Afghan people, saying there are many signs the situation in Afghanistan is worsening.
“For instance, we have seen the formation of an interim government that is neither inclusive nor representative. And we have reports that women and girls are excluded from schools and universities, which goes against initial assurances from the Taliban,” he said.