IPRI – Islamabad Policy Research Institute

Focusing on the Last Attack in Kabul: Daesh or the Taliban, Who is Responsible? Part I

The plight of the Afghan people is at stake: on Wednesday 31 May, at 8.20 am, a devastating attack plunged Kabul into pain. A tanker filled with explosives killed at least 90 people and wounded 461 at Wazir Akbar Khan, a neighborhood in the Afghan capital, where foreign embassies are located.

Another victim is the confidence of Afghan citizens in their government, which seems incapable of protecting them. It is not the first time that Kabul has been hit in 2017, especially by Daesh, who is a newcomer to the conflict but is very active, This situation merely reemphasises on the security deficiencies of the legal government. Above all the possibility of a peace process seems to have been assassinated by this spectacular terrorist attack.

The Taliban claimed loud and clear that they had nothing to do with this attack, which, in fact looks more like an attack by Daesh. This group does not hesitate to carry out gruesome attacks in Afghanistan, since it is not in a political process limited to this country, unlike the Taliban.

A Daesh response to the US? 

In fact, since the beginning of the year, Daesh in Kabul itself has claimed more victims than the Taliban. In particular, we remember the massacre in a military hospital in Kabul (more than 50 deaths) for which the group was responsible.

We know that this group is responsible here because the Afghan government has confirmed it and that Daesh himself has claimed it. This is an important point to remind all analysts who underestimate the danger that the group represents in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, even if the spectacular American bombardment of April 13 was not as effective as the so-called Islamic state, this military and propaganda attempt by the Trump administration asked for a response from Daesh. It has already been seen elsewhere in Syria and Iraq, when Daesh undergoes a major attack, it responds with a spectacular suicide attack, often bloody, to remind that it is always to be feared.

The attack was not claimed. This does not disqualify the idea of an Daesh responsibility. To begin with, if there has been no “official” claim, there is enough proof in the social media and the sites close to Daesh that the attack was clearly presented as a revenge for the bombing of 13 April.

Tactics of Leaving Doubt

On the other hand, the tactics of making quick claim (a usual procedure adopted by this terrorist group) can be modified anytime. We must remember that the divide between Taliban warlords and Daesh fighters is very clear at all times and in all places throughout the country. Even the worst terrorists take into account what is said about them and adapt their actions accordingly. To claim nothing, to leave the doubt about an attack that clearly shows the inability of the Afghan government to ensure the security of its territory, is the best way to raise the anger of the people. This seems to have happened. But it has potentially disastrous consequences for peace in Afghanistan.


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