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Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Kandahar Attack

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The regional affiliates of Islamic State, IS-KP, claimed responsibility for the Thursday explosion in southern Kandahar province, which killed dozens. IS-KP claimed that the main target of the attack was Taliban members. 

In a statement on the group’s media outlet, Amaq, on Friday, a day after the explosion, IS-KP said that the suicide bomber detonated his suicide belt among the crowd of “around 150” Taliban members near a bank.

The explosion occurred on Thursday, March 21, in front of New Kabul Bank, a local commercial bank located in the first district of Afghanistan’s second-largest province, Kandahar. The province serves as both a spiritual and political hub for the Taliban, with the regime’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, residing there. 

According to Taliban authorities, three civilians lost their lives and 12 others were injured in the incident. However, local media, citing health sources, reported a significantly higher toll, with 21 people killed and 51 others wounded.

Yet, some report casualties as high as 45 killed and another 40 injured.

The Taliban Ministry of Interior denounced the suicide attack in Kandahar, vowing to identify and prosecute those responsible for the incident.

The explosion in southern Afghanistan has drawn broad condemnation from Afghan politicians as well as from the international community, including the United States, regional countries, and Islamic organizations.

Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, condemned Thursday’s attack in Kandahar. In a statement released by his office, Karzai described the incident as “un-Islamic and inhumane,” expressing his sympathy with the families of the victims.

Thomas West, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan, wrote in a social media post that the US strongly condemns the “senseless terrorist attacks” in Kandahar, which “resulted in the loss of innocent civilian lives during the holy month of Ramadan.”

The foreign ministries of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran all issued statements in condemnation of the attack. 

Yesterday’s attack, assuming the higher death toll to be accurate, would be the second deadliest security incident and IS-KP bombing since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021.

In the immediate wake of the Taliban’s entry to Kabul, IS–KP targeted Kabul airport, killing more than 70 people including 13 American service members. Explosions targeted thousands of civilians who were desperately trying to find a way to leave the country through the evacuation flights arranged by the United States and its allies.

The claim that they have nearly eradicated the rival terror group in the past two years. Yet, security reports indicate that IS-KP still poses a security challenge and have even infiltrated Taliban ranks and files.