07-23-2016, 10:36 AM #1
Afghanistan - IS claims responsibility for suicide attack in Kabul - 23 July 2016Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday that killed at least 61 people and wounded more than 200 when it tore through a demonstration by members of the mainly Shia Hazara minority.
Graphic television footage from the site of the attack showed many dead bodies lying on the bloodied road, close to where thousands of Hazara had been demonstrating over the route of a planned multimillion dollar power line.
"Two fighters from Islamic State detonated explosive belts at a gathering of Shi'ites in the city of Kabul in Afghanistan," said a brief statement on the group's Amaq news agency.
The attack was the worst in months and if confirmed as the work of Islamic State, would represent a major escalation for a group which has hitherto been largely confined to the eastern province of Nangarhar.
The explicit reference to the Hazara's Shia religious affiliation also represents a menacing departure for Afghanistan, where the bloody rivalry between Sunni and Shia typical of Iraq has been relatively rare, despite decades of war.
07-23-2016, 03:51 PM #2Registered User
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PBS Frontline had an episode on ISIS in Afghanistan last year. It was very interesting, worth a watch. Afghan journalist was very brave to go into their territories.
The school is run by fighters who pledged allegiance to ISIS — the terrorist group that declared an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria. They live among the locals in the village of Shaigal, take local wives and collect taxes. They seem to control every aspect of life.
The teacher, Abdullah Gul, tells the students what “jihad” means: “We must implement God’s religion over all people,” Gul tells the children in the below video. “God says do jihad until intrigue, idolatry and infidelity are finished in the world.”IMO
07-23-2016, 03:58 PM #3A suicide bombing in the capital of Afghanistan on Saturday killed 80 people and injured more than 230 others, many of whom were taking part in a political demonstration, authorities said.
The blast occurred in Dehmazamg Square near the Kabul Zoo on the main road to Parliament, Health Ministry spokesperson Ismail Kawosi told NBC News.
Three suicide bombers worked in tandem in the attacks, according to the Ministry of the Interior. While one bomb was detonated, a second bomb exploded prematurely and a third bomber was shot dead by police.The protesters, mostly ethnic minority Hazaras, were marching to demand that their impoverished home province be included in a major new electricity line, according to The Associated Press.It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. The Taliban denied responsibility.
The government had received intelligence that an attack could take place, and had warned the march organizers, a Ghani spokesman told the AP.
"We had intelligence over recent days and it was shared with the demonstration organizers, we shared our concerns because we knew that terrorists wanted to bring sectarianism to our community,” presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said.
The Islamic State group has struggled to establish a foothold in Afghanistan, where most of its activity has been confined to eastern mountainous regions bordering Pakistan.
In March, Ghani declared Islamic State militants had been defeated in the east of the county but they have had a resurgence in recent weeks, with fighting displacing hundreds of people and wounding dozens in Nangarhar province.
A little more than a week ago, during a visit to Nangarhar, Ghani launched a new military operation targeting Islamic State.Hazaras, most of whom are Shiite Muslims, were especially persecuted during rule by the Sunni Taliban between 1996 and 2001.
The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that his insurgent group was not responsible for the blast. The Taliban have been waging an insurgency against the Kabul government for 15 years, since their regime was overthrown by the U.S. invasion in 2001.
They rarely issue such statements denying involvement in suicide attacks.
A website linked to IS claimed responsibility for the violence. A statement said the attack was meant to warn Afghanistan's ethnic Hazaras, who are mostly Shi'ite Muslims, to stop joining the Syrian government in its fight against the terror group.
Rights groups and analysts have accused Iran of covertly recruiting and training men from the estimated 3 million Afghan refugees it hosts and sending them to Syria to fight alongside government forces.
07-23-2016, 05:07 PM #4
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07-24-2016, 09:40 AM #5Funerals have quietly begun in Kabul for victims of Saturday's suicide bomb attack claimed by so-called Islamic State (IS), which killed 80 people.
Bodies were still being collected from morgues as the first burials were conducted in the west of the city.President Ashraf Ghani has led prayers for the dead and Afghanistan is observing a day of national mourning.
Some families were still searching for missing relatives on Sunday, gathering outside hospitals to read the names posted on the walls, and checking morgues.
07-24-2016, 10:03 AM #6Afghanistan plans for a military offensive in coordination with U.S. troops against the Islamic State have become more urgent as the country marked Sunday a national day of mourning for 80 people killed and 230 injured in Kabul's worst attack in 15 years.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently announced a major assault in the Nangarhar province along the country’s eastern border with Pakistan.
The effort nicknamed Shafaq, or “dawn” in Pashto, would be the largest since most international combat troops withdrew in 2014.
The attack was the first by IS on Kabul — and the capital's worst since a vicious Taliban insurgency began 15 years ago — raising concerns about the group's reach and capability in Afghanistan.IS has had a presence in Afghanistan for the past year, mainly in the eastern province of Nangarhar along the Pakistani border. The Afghan military, backed by U.S. troops, is planning an offensive against IS positions in Nangarhar in coming days.
Until Saturday, Kabul residents mostly knew of Islamic State’s operations in Afghanistan through reports of pockets of militants fighting under that name in some eastern districts. They had never felt their presence up close.If true, it would be Isis’s first attack on a civilian crowd in Kabul, and its largest ever attack in Afghanistan, only months after the Afghan president boasted that the country would be a “graveyard” for Isis.
Michael Kugelman, South Asia associate at the Wilson Center, said the attack bore the hallmarks of Isis and was likely to have been carried out by former Taliban “aligned with Isis and determined to demonstrate their clout”.
Evidence has not been put forth of any direct links between the attackers and Isis in Iraq or Syria.In Afghanistan, Isis is viewed largely as a foreign entity, by civilians and the Taliban alike. The Kabul attack, Kugelman said, signaled capacity rather than strength.
"Carrying out a huge attack in the country’s capital is horrific, but it’s not necessarily going to be a prelude to taking over territory and gaining a deep foothold,” he said.
07-24-2016, 10:26 AM #7Ali Bakhtiyari is set to bury five of his friends, who were killed in Saturday's blasts.
"When the explosion happened, I remember seeing them very close to it. I thought they would be injured but not dead," Bakhtiyari told Al Jazeera.
"Losing five friends all at the same time is not easy."I was in the crowd just a few meters away from the blast, it was so loud that I am still in a state of shock," Mehdi Ali, a protester told Al Jazeera on Sunday.
"I saw dead bodies lying all over the area. Is this the value of human blood here?"
The Hazara and IS -- November 2015:
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Afghanistan's capital on Wednesday with coffins carrying the bodies of seven ethnic Hazara demanding justice after their beheadings.
The protests included women and men from Afghanistan's different ethnic groups - Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara - as they marched on the Presidential Palace to urge the government to take action against rising violence against Afghan civilians.
According to Afghan officials, the Hazara hostages were captured by ISIL fighters more than a month ago and held in Arghandab district of Zabul province.Four men, two women, and a child had been beheaded with razor wire, officials said. The Hazaras were abducted in Ghazni and their bodies were later found in Zabul province.The Hazara have long suffered oppression and persecution in Afghanistan. During the 1990s, thousands were killed by al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.ISIL emerged in Afghanistan last year .
A Taliban splinter group calling itself the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate announced last week it had elected its own leader, defying new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
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