ISIS attacks worry residents of Afghanistan's northern provinces

By Muhammad Qasem

A wounded Afghan man receives treatment at a hospital after he was injured in a bomb blast at the Shia Seh Dokan Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif on April 21. [AFP]

A wounded Afghan man receives treatment at a hospital after he was injured in a bomb blast at the Shia Seh Dokan Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif on April 21. [AFP]

KUNDUZ -- Residents of Balkh, Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces are raising concerns about increasing "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) attacks along Afghanistan's borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

ISIS's local Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) has perpetrated a number of deadly attacks over the past nine months across the country, killing and injuring dozens of people.

In recent months, ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for bombs targeting mosques, schools and minibuses, as well as rocket attacks aimed at Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

In the most recent claim, ISIS said on Telegram on May 7 that it had fired seven missiles at a Tajik military base across the border from Khwaja Ghar, Takhar province.

Taking advantage of the recent power vacuum in Afghanistan, ISIS-K has increased its movement across the country, said Rabiullah Muhtashem, a civil society activist in Kunduz.

"The recent events in Kabul, Balkh, Nangarhar and other parts of the country indicate a new wave of violence in Afghanistan," he said.

"The current government must stop this."

"Our information shows that masked men are present in parts of Kunduz province," he said.

"ISIS is actively recruiting in the country's northern provinces," he added. "If they are not stopped, they will become a major problem."

ISIS shows no mercy

"This time, ISIS is unfortunately thirsty for our blood," said Mohammad Rahim Rahimi, a resident of Kunduz province. "They have mercy for no one."

"With the passing of every day, ISIS is trying to strengthen its ranks in Afghanistan," he said. "Unfortunately, there is no plan to stop the activities of this group in the country."

The international community should not underestimate ISIS's threat in Afghanistan and should stop the expansion of its activities through joint regional and international efforts, Rahimi said.

The terror group's attacks have drawn widespread condemnation from Afghans.

Hundreds of residents of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, gathered April 22 to mourn a day after a bombing at the Shia Seh Dokan mosque in the city killed 12 people.

ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mourners condemned the bombing and expressed concern about continuing ISIS attacks.

Killing innocent people, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, is a crime against humanity, said Sayed Qurban Rezae, a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Any group that perpetrates the mass murder of Muslims is not aware of the teachings of Islam, he added.

"The latest attacks by this bloodthirsty group have left hundreds of families grieving the loss of their loved ones," Rezae said. "They have orphaned children, widowed women and taken kids from their parents."

Each family has witnessed the death or injury of two or three members, he said.

"The perpetrators of these crimes will burn in hell."

ISIS is the enemy of all Afghans, said Qambar Ali Hussaini, a relative of one of the victims of the bombing.

The Shia Hazara community, which makes up 10-20% of Afghanistan's 38 million people, has long been the target of terrorist acts -- most carried out by ISIS.

"ISIS does not spare anyone. The group enjoys spilling people's blood, he said.

"ISIS's objective is the destruction and killing of Afghans, as it does not want Afghans to live in peace and prosperity," he said.

Afghans must mobilise and be ready to rise against this terrorist group, he said. Otherwise, all ethnic groups in the country will face a slow death in Afghanistan.

Growing threats

ISIS-K has expanded its operations across the country and is now threatening the stability of other countries in the region as well, said Azizullah Ayoubi, a military analyst in Badakhshan province.

"ISIS has been taking advantage of the dire situation of Afghans and has been encouraging them to join its ranks."

"The increasing unemployment and poverty in the country has been an achievement for ISIS, as it recruits the youth and pays them monthly salaries," he said.

Fatima Sekandari, a civil society activist in Takhar province, said unless a force well-equipped to defeat ISIS is established in Afghanistan, the group will continue capturing more territory.

"Establishing a well-equipped force in the country to defeat ISIS is critical," she said. "Otherwise, this terrorist group will kill innocent people daily."

Do you like this article?

0 Comment(s)

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500