ecoi.net's featured topics offer an overview on selected issues. The featured topic for Afghanistan covers the general security situation, and a chronology of security-related events in Kabul since January 2011. The featured topics are presented in the form of excerpts from documents, coming from selected sources. Compiled by ACCORD.

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1. Overview of security in Afghanistan

1.1. Security in the country

2017

“[I]ts economy and society are still fragile after decades of warfare that left about 2 million dead, 700,000 widows and orphans, and about 1 million Afghan children raised in refugee camps outside Afghanistan. Millions of Afghan refugees have since returned, although as many as 2.7 million remain outside Afghanistan (mostly in Pakistan and Iran).” (CRS, 19 May 2017, p. 52)[i]

“The key observation regarding the current situation in Afghanistan that guides all subsequent recommendations is that Afghanistan is not in a post-conflict situation, where sufficient stability exists to focus on institution-building and development-oriented activities, but a country undergoing a conflict that shows few signs of abating." (UNGA, 10 August 2017, p. 3) [ii]

“The overall security situation has deteriorated over the past few years, as the Taliban have been able to influence and, to some extent, control ever larger parts of the country.” (UNGA, 10 August 2017, p. 4)

“Fighting between Afghan government and Taliban forces intensified through 2017, causing high numbers of civilian casualties.” (HRW, 18 January 2018)[iii]

“In the past two years, the Taliban have intensified their attacks in large urban areas, ostensibly targeting Afghan government and foreign military facilities but using means that cause massive, indiscriminate casualties.” (HRW, 8 May 2018)

“This quarter, the Afghan government made some modest improvements to its control of districts, population, and land area. As of January 31, 2018, roughly 65% of the population (21.2 million of an estimated 32.5 million total) lived in areas under Afghan government control or influence, up one percentage point since last quarter. The insurgency continued to control or influence areas where 12% of the population lived (3.9 million people), unchanged from last quarter, while the population living in contested areas (7.4 million people) decreased to roughly 23%, about a one percentage-point decline since last quarter. This quarter’s population-control figures show a slight deterioration from the same period last year, when the Afghan government controlled or influenced 65.6% of the population and the insurgency only 9.2%. […]

Using Afghanistan’s 407 districts as the unit of assessment, as of January 31, 2018, 229 districts were under Afghan government control (73 districts) or influence (156)—an increase of two districts under government influence since last quarter. This brings Afghan government control or influence to 56.3% of Afghanistan’s total districts. There were 59 districts under insurgent control (13) or influence (46), an increase of one district under insurgent influence since last quarter. Therefore, 14.5% of the country’s total districts are now under insurgent control or influence, only a slight increase from last quarter, but a more than three percentage point increase from the same period in 2016. The remaining 119 districts (29.2%) are contested—controlled by neither the Afghan government nor the insurgency.” (SIGAR, 30 April 2018, p. 86) [iv]

The following table by SIGAR illustrates the percentages of territories under Afghan government control or influence, territories under insurgent control or influence, and contested territories for selected months since January 2016:

(SIGAR, 30 April 2018, p. 87)

The SIGAR report also contains a map illustrating population density in conjunction with level of control of territory by the Afghan government and insurgent groups:

(SIGAR, 30 April 2018, p. 89)

“Between 1 January and 31 December [2017], UNAMA documented 10,453 civilian casualties (3,438 deaths and 7,015 injured), an overall decrease of nine per cent compared to 2016 and the first year-on-year decrease recorded by UNAMA since 2012. While the number of civilian deaths reduced by two per cent from 2016 and the number of civilians injured decreased by 11 per cent, the overall continuation of high numbers of civilian casualties underscores the enormous human cost of the ongoing armed conflict.” (UNAMA, 15 February 2018, p. 1) [v]

“In 2017, civilian casualties decreased in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. In the remaining 12 provinces, increased suicide and IED attacks in civilian-populated areas by Anti-Government Elements were the main cause for the increase in casualties, though a few also increased from ground fighting. […] After Kabul, the highest numbers of civilian casualties were recorded in Helmand, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Faryab, Uruzgan, Herat, Paktya, Kunduz, and Laghman provinces.” (UNAMA, 15 February 2018, p. 4)

According to the UNHCR [vi], 16 per cent of civilian casualties in 2017 were recorded in Kabul city. For the first time, in 2017, UNAMA documented attacks by Islamic State – Khorasan Group (ISKP) outside of Nangarhar or Kabul, in Herat province. New displacement in 2017 occurred in 31 of the country’s 34 provinces. The following chart shows numbers of civilian casualties (deaths and injuries) from 2009 to 2017 by region of the country:

(UNHCR, 12 March 2018, slide 6)

As reported by the UNHCR, 1.8 million conflict-induced IDPs were recorded in 2017 (this figure includes both new and protracted IDPs). The following chart shows numbers of IDPs for each year since 1993:

(UNHCR, 12 March 2018, slide 9)

“The Taliban maintained their ability to contest territory across the country, compelling the Government to devote significant resources to maintain the status quo. In contrast with 2016, the Taliban have not launched any major attempts to capture a provincial capital since the announcement of their Operation Mansouri offensive in April. However, the Taliban were able to overrun and temporarily hold several district centres, including Taywara in the western province of Ghor, Kohistan and Ghormach in the northern province of Faryab and Jani Khel in the eastern province of Paktiya.” (UNGA, 15 September 2017, p. 5)

“The conflict has further evolved because of the Government’s strategic decision, as a result of Taliban gains in rural areas, to focus its resources on defending population centres and disrupting the consolidation of Taliban control over strategic areas. This change has led to an increasing number of clashes for control over lines of communication and vital infrastructure. In addition, the more secure hold of the Taliban over some rural areas has allowed them to undertake more frequent attacks in the north of Afghanistan.” (UNGA, 15 September 2017, p. 4-5)

“By the end of 2017, the United Nations had recorded 23,744 security-related incidents. This was the highest number ever recorded, although it was only negligibly higher than the figure for 2016. Armed clashes continued to represent the highest proportion of incidents, at 63 per cent. […] The United Nations recorded 3,521 security-related incidents from 15 December 2017 to 15 February 2018, representing a 6 per cent decrease compared with the same period the year before. […]

Despite this spate of violence in urban areas, the winter season saw a drop in the overall number of direct Taliban attacks around the country. The Taliban were not able to seize any provincial capitals or district administration centres during the reporting period, which Afghan and international security officials attributed to an intensification of air strikes by international military and the Afghan Air Force, as well as an increase in night raids by Afghan special forces. However, anti-government elements continued to place pressure on Afghan security forces, with coordinated attacks during the reporting period against Afghan National Defence and Security Forces checkpoints in Helmand, Kandahar and Nimroz Provinces in the south, Kunduz Province in the north-east, Ghazni Province in the south-east and Farah Province in the west. Those attacks inflicted significant casualties on Afghan security forces and allowed insurgents to capture weaponry and logistical supplies, but they did not result in significant territorial gains. The Taliban, however, consolidated their hold over mostly rural territory throughout 2017.” (UNGA, 27 February 2018, p. 5)

2018

“The Afghan Taliban has announced the launch of its annual spring offensive. In a statement released online on April 25, the militant group said the offensive will be "mainly focused on crushing, killing, and capturing American invaders." It said the Americans' "internal supporters" -- the Afghan government and troops -- are considered secondary priorities.” (RFE/RL, 25 April 2018)[vii]

“Defense minister Tariq Shah Bahrami on Monday said the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have thwarted over 1,700 operations by the Taliban since the group announced its spring offensive 'Al Khandaq' last month. He said, since then the group has launched over 2,600 operations across the country, from which the security forces have foiled 1,700 operations.” (Tolo News, 7 May 2018)[viii]

“Analysts warn that ongoing security concerns are continuing to deter Afghans from registering to vote in the run-up to parliamentary and district council elections due in October.” (IWPR, 11 June 2018)[ix]

“For a three-day period from 15 to 17 June 2018, corresponding with the start of the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, unilateral ceasefires declared by Government and Taliban overlapped, resulting in the first real cessation of hostilities in 17 years. The break in fighting led to unprecedented improvements in freedom of movement for ordinary Afghans, some of whom visited family homes in Taliban controlled areas that they had been prevented from reaching for years. It also spared the lives of countless Afghan civilians, who continue to suffer at extreme levels from the armed conflict. Two Daesh/ISKP - claimed suicide attacks in Nangarhar on 16 and 17 June targeting civilians killed 48 and injured 133, particularly brutal attacks which crushed the peaceful atmosphere in Nangarhar. Apart from these attacks, UNAMA documented almost no other civilian casualties during the break in fighting. The brief ceasefire offered a glimmer of hope to the civilian population at a time when many may have been unable to imagine respite ahead.” (UNAMA, 15 July 2018, p. 6-7)

“From 1 January to 30 June 2018, UNAMA documented 5,122 civilian casualties (1,692 deaths and 3,430 injured) - a three per cent overall decrease from last year - reflecting the same levels of harm to civilians as those documented […] during the same period in 2017 and 2016. Civilian deaths increased by one per cent while the number of civilians injured decreased by five per cent. Improvised explosive device (IED) use in attacks by Anti-Government Elements remained the leading cause of civilian casualties in the first six months of 2018. The combined use of suicide and non-suicide IEDs caused nearly half (45 per cent) of all civilian casualties. Continuing trends first documented by UNAMA in 2017, the majority of IED casualties were caused by suicide and complex attacks, which again caused record high civilian casualties. Ground engagements were the second leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted and deliberate killings, aerial operations, and explosive remnants of war. Civilians living in the provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar, Faryab, Helmand, and Kandahar were most impacted by the conflict.” (UNAMA, 15 July 2018, p. 1)

The following chart shows numbers of civilian casualties (deaths and injured) documented by UNAMA for each year since 2009:

(UNAMA, 15 July 2018, p. 1)

“UNAMA notes with concern that the number of civilian casualties attributed to Anti-Government Elements continued at the same high levels throughout the first half of 2018, including increased civilian casualties from attacks targeting civilians. From 1 January to 30 June 2018, Anti-Government Elements caused 3,413 civilian casualties (1,127 deaths and 2,286 injured), approximately the same as in the first six months of 2017. UNAMA attributed 67 per cent of all civilian casualties to Anti-Government Elements, with 42 per cent attributed to Taliban, 18 per cent to Daesh/ISKP, and seven per cent to unidentified Anti-Government Elements (including less than one per cent to self-proclaimed Daesh/ISKP).” (UNAMA, 15 July 2018, p. 4)

“UNAMA attributed 1,047 civilian casualties to Pro-Government Forces between 1 January and 30 June 2018, approximately the same as during the corresponding period in 2017. Pro-Government Forces caused 20 per cent of all civilian casualties in the first half of 2018 (17 per cent by Afghan national security forces, two per cent by international military forces, and one per cent by pro-Government armed groups).” (UNAMA, 15 July 2018, p. 5)

“In total 839 people were killed and another 783 wounded in Afghanistan last month, when 172 attacks took place, showing a 16 percent decrease in assaults and a 46 percent decline in casualties compared to May, Pajhwok has learnt.” (PAN, 4 July 2018)

“In May, around 1,449 people were killed and 1,550 others wounded in 205 attacks across Afghanistan, with one-fifth of the assaults happening in Kabul. The statistics indicate a 58 percent increase in attacks and a 39 percent spike in casualties in May over April.” (PAN, 4 July 2018) [x]

“Nearly 2,100 people have been killed and injured in 173 attacks in Afghanistan in April showing 15 percent increase in casualties happened in April compared to March. […]

According to Pajhwok Afghan News daily reports 1,018 people have been killed and 792 others injured in 171 different attacks in 31 provinces of the country in March.

Reports based on different sources showed 1,220 people were killed and 866 others injured in 27 out of total 34 provinces of the country during April. […]

More than half of the April [2018] attacks took place in Faryab, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Jawzjan and Kunduz provinces and the remaining attacks happened in 25 other provinces while Pajhwok had no report of violent incidents from Bamyan, Nuristan, Panshir, Paktia, Nimroz, Takhar and Nuristan [sic!] provinces. […]

Among the dead and wounded were rebels, security forces and civilians, but Pajhwok could not share separate and exact number of dead and injured of each category because different sources shared different views.” (PAN, 3 May 2018)

“Casualties’ figures show that current year is more violent compared to the last year.” According to PAN, the majority of (civilian and non-civilian) casualties in April 2018 resulted from face-to-face combat (1,211 casualties). The second most important cause were suicide attacks, which accounted for 316 casualties, followed by airstrikes (224 casualties), armed attacks (192 casualties) and explosions (143 casualties). As noted by PAN, 279 persons were killed or injured in Kabul province in April 2018, while 252 casualties were documented in Ghazni province, 223 in Kunduz province, 213 in Faryab province, 195 in Nangarhar province, 125 in Jawzjan province, 114 in Herat province, 91 in Farah province, 83 in Uruzgan province and 73 in Kapisa province.” (PAN, 3 May 2018)

“One hundred and eighty eight civilians have been killed and 306 wounded during last month in 23 provinces of Afghanistan, The Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) said on Wednesday. […] Most of the civilian casualties belonged to Kabul as a result of terrorist attack in the Kala-i-Nazer locality of Dasht-i-Barchi. 57 civilians were martyred and 119 others got injured in the bombing, the statement said.” (PAN, 2 May 2018)

“At least 121 civilians were martyred and 322 others injured in 15 provinces of the country in March, a civil society group said on Sunday.” (PAN, 1 April 2018)

“According to Pajhwok reports, around 1,400 people had suffered casualties in February.” (PAN, 4 April 2018)

“Two Hundred and two civilians have suffered causalities in February with 113, including 16 women and 17 children killed, and 89 others injured, including 20 children, Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) said on Sunday.” (PAN, 4 March 2018)

“As many as 228 people were killed and 364 others injured in Afghanistan in the first month of 2018, the Civilian Protection Advocacy Group (CPAG) said on Thursday.” (PAN, 1 February 2018)

“In the first quarter of this year - before the Dasht-e-Archi incident - 67 people were killed and 75 injured by [US air] strikes, more than half of them women and children.” (BBC News, 7 June 2018)[xi]

The March 2018 German-language expert opinion on Afghanistan by Friederike Stahlmann provides comments on the validity of casualty figures for Afghanistan (Stahlmann, 28 March 2018, section 7)[xii]

“As of 4 June, 127,045 individuals have been newly displaced by conflict in 2018 and profiled by OCHA as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in need.” (UNHCR, June 2018)

“Military operations and insecurity continue to generate population displacement in Afghanistan. In early June, military operations displaced nearly 3,800 people in Nangarhar Province’s Dehbala and Pachieragam districts, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In addition, insecurity recently displaced more than 2,600 people in Kunar, Nangarhar, and Nuristan provinces. Further, ongoing clashes between Government of Afghanistan (GoA) forces and armed groups in southern Afghanistan displaced nearly 1,130 people in Helmand Province, approximately 900 people in Uruzgan Province, and an estimated 380 people in Zabul Province in early June, according to OCHA. In total, conflict displaced nearly 133,000 people - approximately 20 percent of whom are seeking shelter in hard-to-reach areas - from January 1- June 17, OCHA reports.” (USAID, 9 July 2018, p. 2)[xiii]

The following chart published by BBC News shows the number of US air strikes in Afghanistan over the past five years:

(BBC News, 7 June 2018)

1.2. State and Non-State Actors

1.2.1. Afghan Government and Security Forces

“Three ministries have responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order in the country: the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, and the NDS. The ANP, under the Interior Ministry, has primary responsibility for internal order and for the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a community-based self-defense force. The Afghan National Army, under the Ministry of Defense, is responsible for external security, but its primary activity is fighting the insurgency internally. The NDS functions as an intelligence agency and has responsibility for investigating criminal cases concerning national security. The investigative branch of the NDS operated a facility in Kabul, where it held national security prisoners awaiting trial until their cases went to prosecution. Some areas were outside of government control, and antigovernment forces, including the Taliban, oversaw their own justice and security systems.” (USDOS, 20 April 2018, section 1d)[xiv]

“[T]he Government continued to face increasing challenges owing to the high levels of attrition in the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police as a result of casualties and desertion as well as difficulties in securing new recruits, in particular at the officer entry level.” (UNGA, 15 September 2017, p. 5)

According to SIGAR, the ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) comprised an authorized strength of 334,000 and an assigned strength of 296,409 personnel (SIGAR, 30 April 2018, p. 92).

“ANA and Afghan Air Force (AAF) personnel are 169,229, 13 per cent short of the approved 195,000 target. The government and NATO are generally satisfied with overall performance in 2016. Though stretched thin and suffering high casualties, the army repelled insurgent advances in conflict-hit provinces, including Kunduz, Helmand, Uruzgan and Nangarhar, and prevented the Taliban from retaining a major provincial capital or district centre. According to General Nicholson, special forces mostly now operate independently of coalition advisers, forces or enablers, unlike two years ago when they were heavily dependent on international military and air support. Yet, reliance on these some 17,000 elite forces for 70 per cent of the army’s offensive operations risks overburdening them. […]

ANP personnel are 148,480, just short of the 157,000 target, excluding the Afghan Local Police (ALP) which is not part of the structure. While it suffers higher casualties than the army because it is often at the front during the “hold” phase of counterinsurgency operations, its poorly rated performance is largely due to “inadequate training in counter-insurgency, poor planning processes and sub-optimal force postures” that leave personnel vulnerable at static checkpoints. The ANP and ALP are, moreover, ridden with corruption and nepotism. ANP officer appointments are often patronage based; staff positions are stacked with junior and inexperienced officers, appointed due to nepotism, corruption or simply the ability to read and write.” (ICG, 10 April 2017, pp. 14-15)[xv]

The March 2018 German-language expert opinion on Afghanistan by Friederike Stahlmann provides further information on state actors in Afghanistan (Stahlmann, 28 March 2018, section 3.2)

“The Government continued to reform the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in accordance with its four-year road map on security sector reform. During the reporting period [27 February – 6 June 2017], the Government completed the transfer of the Afghan Border Police from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Defence and renamed it the Afghan Border Forces, in line with its new focus on combat operations. The Government also continued to scale up the Afghan Special Forces as part of a plan to double their number under the four-year road map. During the reporting period, 2,000 additional commandos joined the special operations battalions. Efforts also continued to increase the size of the Afghan Air Force, which is expected to double by 2023 under the road map. In addition, the Government brought forward the retirement of senior military officials under the provisions of the Inherent Law of 2017, with a retirement order for a second group of 61 Afghan National Army generals issued by the President on 12 May.” (UNGA, 6 June 2018, p. 5- 6)

“During the reporting period the Government began preparations for the establishment of a new security force, the Afghan National Army Territorial Force. The Force is expected to comprise about 36,000 personnel and will mainly be responsible for defending areas cleared of insurgents by military operations. Around 5,000 soldiers have been recruited in a pilot phase to be rolled out in four provinces and have commenced training under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence.” (UNGA, 6 June 2018, p. 6)

1.2.2. Insurgent Groups

“Anti-Government Elements encompass all individuals and armed groups involved in armed conflict with or armed opposition against the Government of Afghanistan and/or international military forces. They include those who identify as ‘Taliban’ as well as individuals and non-State organised armed groups taking a direct part in hostilities and assuming a variety of labels including the Haqqani Network, Hezb-e-Islami, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, Lashkari Tayyiba, Jaysh Muhammed, groups identified as ‘Daesh’ and other militia and armed groups pursuing political, ideological or economic objectives including armed criminal groups directly engaged in hostile acts on behalf of a party to the conflict.” (UNAMA, August 2015, p. 2, Footnote 5)

“The total number of foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan with all terrorist groups (including ISIL) is estimated at 10,000 to 15,000.” (UN Security Council, 30 May 2018, p. 3)[xvi]

“This presents a grave threat to an already embattled Afghanistan. The recent wave of Taliban terrorist attacks in urban centers across the country suggests a reinvigorated insurgency, with the Afghan government and security forces now also facing an onslaught from an emboldened IS-K.” (JF, 14 June 2018)[xvii]

Taliban

“The insurgency is still led primarily by the Taliban movement. The death in 2013 of its original leader, Mullah Umar, was revealed in a July 2015 Taliban announcement. In a disputed selection process, he was succeeded by Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who in turn was killed by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle strike on May 21, 2016. Several days later, the Taliban confirmed his death and announced the selection of one of his deputies, Haibatullah Akhunzadeh, as the new Taliban leader. The group announced two deputies: Mullah Yaqub (son of Mullah Umar) and Sirajuddin Haqqani (operational commander of the Haqqani Network).” (CRS, 19 May 2017, p. 16)

“The Taliban is an umbrella organization comprising loosely connected insurgent groups, including more or less autonomous groups with varying degrees of loyalty to the leadership and the idea of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s organisational structure is hierarchical, with an Amir ul - Muminin (Commander of the Faithful) on the top. He gives moral, religious and political statements, oversees judges, courts, and political commissions, assigns shadow governors and is in command of the military organization.” (Landinfo, 13 May 2016, p. 4)[xviii]

“[T]he Taliban had reportedly undertaken a restructuring and made numerous appointments to senior leadership positions inside Afghanistan, which were described as the removal of the older generation in favour of younger Taliban leaders. According to the same interlocutors, the provincial shadow and deputy shadow governors, along with the provincial military commanders, were all replaced in the Provinces of Bamyan, Baghlan, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunar, Laghman, Parwan, Samangan, Takhar and Uruzgan. Ousted individuals were reportedly removed owing to complaints from rank and file Taliban concerning deficiencies in logistical and financial support.” (UN Security Council, 30 May 2018, p. 5)

“The total manpower of the Taliban, including combatants and support elements, exceeds 200,000. The fighters are about 150,000, of whom around 60,000 are in fulltime, mobile units and the rest are local militias. The mobile units are mostly based in Pakistan and Iran and deploy to Afghanistan during the fighting season […].” (Giustozzi, 23 August 2017, p. 12)[xix]

“Since the post-2014 U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, there is little sign that the Taliban’s firepower has waned, or that the group is suffering from battle fatigue. Through persistent violence, the Taliban formations have proven they are still a major force in Afghanistan. It is likely the support structures the group has established over the last two decades remain intact. Since the fall of its so-called Islamic Emirate in 2001, the militant group has restricted the governments that followed from fully governing the country.” (JF, 2 June 2018)

Hezb-e-Islami

“Another significant insurgent leader is former mujahedin party leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar , who leads Hizb-e-Islami - Gulbuddin (HIG). The faction received extensive U.S. support against the Soviet Union, but turned against its mujahedin colleagues after the Communist government fell in 1992. The Taliban displaced HIG as the main opposition to the 1992 - 1996 Rabbani government. In the post-Taliban period, HIG has been ideologically and politically allied with the Taliban insurgents, but HIG fighters sometimes clash with the Taliban over control of territory in HIG’s main centers of activity in provinces to the north and east of Kabul. HIG is not widely considered a major factor on the Afghanistan battlefield and has focused primarily on high-profile attacks […].” (CRS, 6 June 2016, p. 22)

“The peace deal signed today by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-e Islami, and President Ashraf Ghani, has been hailed by the Afghan government as the first major peace achievement of the last fifteen years. However, expectations should be tempered. Given Hezb-e Islami’s almost total absence on the battlefield, the deal is unlikely to significantly lower the current levels of violence.” (Osman, 29 September 2016)[xx]

Haqqani Network

The “Haqqani Network,” founded by Jalaludin Haqqani, a mujahedin commander and U.S. ally during the U.S.-backed war against the Soviet occupation, is often cited by U.S. officials as a potent threat to U.S. and allied forces and interests, and a “critical enabler of Al Qaeda.” […] Some see the Haqqani Network as on the decline. The Haqqani Network had about 3,000 fighters and supporters at its zenith during 2004-2010, but it is believed to have far fewer currently. However, the network is still capable of carrying out operations, particularly in Kabul city. […] The group apparently has turned increasingly to kidnapping to perhaps earn funds and publicize its significance.” (CRS, 19 May 2017, p. 20)

“Strength: HQN is believed to have several hundred core members, but it is estimated that the organization is also able to draw upon a pool of upwards of 10,000 fighters. HQN cooperates closely with the larger Afghan Taliban and draws strength through cooperation with other terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan, including al-Qa’ida and Jaish-e Mohammad. Location/Area of Operation: HQN is active along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and across much of southeastern Afghanistan, particularly in Loya Paktia, and has repeatedly targeted Kabul in its attacks. The group’s leadership has historically maintained a power base around Pakistan’s tribal areas.” (USDOS, 2 June 2016, Chapter 6)

Al Qaeda

“From 2001 until 2015, Al Qaeda was considered by U.S. officials to have only a minimal presence (fewer than 100) in Afghanistan itself, operating mostly as a facilitator for insurgent groups and mainly in the northeast. However, in late 2015 U.S. Special Operations forces and their ANDSF partners discovered and destroyed a large Al Qaeda training camp in Qandahar Province—a discovery that indicated that Al Qaeda had expanded its presence in Afghanistan. In April 2016, U.S. commanders publicly raised their estimates of Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan to 100-300, and said that relations between Al Qaeda and the Taliban are increasingly close. Afghan officials put the number of Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan at 300- 500.” (CRS, 19 May 2017, p. 17)

Islamic State - Khorasan Province

“An Islamic State affiliate—Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP, often also referred to as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan, ISIL-K), named after an area that once included parts of what is now Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan—has been active in Afghanistan since mid- 2014.(CRS, 19 May 2017, p. 19)

“IS formally launched its Afghanistan operations on January 10, 2015, when Pakistani and Afghan militants pledged their allegiance to its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq[…]. Since then, IS-Khorasan has proved itself to be one of group’s most brutal iterations, attacking soft targets, targeting Shia populations, killing Sufis and destroying shrines, as well as beheading its own dissidents, kidnapping their children and marrying off their widows. […]

IS-Khorasan chose to base itself in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, a strategic location bordering Pakistan’s tribal areas. Its recruits came from both sides of the porous border and could easily escape a surgical strike or military operation by fleeing to either side of the Durand line. […]

From the very beginning, IS-Khorasan identified its targets—Shia communities, foreign troops, the security forces, the Afghan central government and the Taliban, who had not previously been challenged by an insurgent group. […]

Despite rigorous bombing and military operations against IS-Khorasan—including the deployment of the largest conventional bomb, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, in April last year—the group has maintained its presence in almost 30 districts across the country. In the north, the group has made bases in Kohistanat, Sar-e-Pol province, Khanabad, Kunduz province and Darzab, Jowzjan province. […]

Kabul became the first target on the IS-Khorasan agenda after the group established a base in neighboring Logar province in early 2015. From the beginning, it carried out small-scale attacks and targeted killings, but most of these went unnoticed by the international media.

Over time, these cells have become increasingly active, sophisticated and barbaric.” (JF, 6 April 2018)

As of late 2015, Afghan affiliates of the Islamic State have begun receiving financial assistance from the core organization located in the self-declared ‘caliphate’ in parts of Iraq and Syria. (CRS, 19 May 2017, p. 19)

“The overall number of ISIL members in the country has been estimated at between 1,500 and 6,000. The Monitoring Team’ s estimate, based on a cluster of Member States ’ assessments, is approximately 3,500 to 4,000, while Afghan estimates suggest that 600 to 1000 of these are in the north.” (UN Security Council, 30 May 2018, p. 13)

“On January 26, 2015, Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, Islamic State’s chief spokesperson, released an audio statement in which he declared the establishment of Wilayat Khorasan, a branch of the group “encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nearby lands” (Jihadology, January 26, 2015).” (JF, 3 March 2016)

“ISKP’s control of territory in Nangrahar reached its peak in summer 2015 when it became the dominant insurgent group in eight of the province’s 22 districts. […] Since then, the Taleban have fought to take back territory and the group has also been pounded by US air strikes. ISKP territory had shrunk to four districts by the end of 2015, with territory mainly re-taken by the Taleban. ISKP then dug in through 2016 in all its remaining districts, that is, Achin, Kot and Nazyan in the south-eastern districts (Bati Kot had returned to Taleban control), as well as Deh Bala in the south-west. ISKP’s hold over these districts looked firm until mid-March, or the beginning of the Afghan spring 2017, when US and Afghan special forces stepped up their attacks against it. In early April 2017, these combined forces launched a new campaign dubbed Operation Hamza, which, according to the US military, was targeted against ISKP not only in Nangrahar, but also in Kunar. In Kunar, the group has not yet established definitive territorial control, but it has actively recruited from members of militant groups there, including from the Afghan Taleban. Kunar has also served as a place of retreat for ISKP members when pressed in southern Nangrahar. Nevertheless, the group is still most entrenched in southern Nangrahar, and particularly strongly in Achin and Deh Bala districts.” (Osman, 23 May 2017)

“Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province remained resilient, despite concerted operations by Afghan and international military forces. The group conducted several attacks against the civilian population and military targets, especially in Kabul and in the eastern Province of Nangarhar, and continued to engage in armed clashes against the Taliban as the two groups competed for control over territory. Meanwhile, in the northern region, self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan Province affiliates continued to engage in violent clashes against both Afghan Government and Taliban forces, suggesting that the group has expanded its geographical reach and begun to consolidate its presence outside the eastern part of the country.” (UNGA, 27 February 2018, p. 5)

“U.S. forces have killed the leader of the Islamic State group's Afghanistan branch in a raid in the northeastern province of Kunar, the Pentagon said on July 14. ‘U.S. forces killed Abu Sayed, the emir of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) -- in a strike on the group's headquarters in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, July 11,’ Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement, using an alternative name for the group. […] IS leaders chose Abu Sayed to lead the group after Afghan and U.S. forces killed the previous ISIS-K leaders -- Hafiz Sayed in late July last year and Abdul Hasib in late April.” (RFE/RL, 14 July 2017)

“Afghan officials reported that the overall ISIL leader in Afghanistan was still Abu Sayed Bajauri and that the majority of the members of ISIL, particularly its leaders, were former members of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.“ (UN Security Council, 30 May 2018, p. 13)

“While the group has not commented publicly on the reports of Abu Saeed’s death, ISKP sources have also rejected it; AAN knows from three ISKP sources that they denied these reports categorically.” (Osman, 23 July 2017)

“IS Khorasan gained its new strength through forging alliances with local sectarian pro-al-Qaeda or Taliban militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Alami (LeJ-A), Lashkar-e Islam (LeI), or disgruntled Taliban factions like Jundallah and Jamaat ul Ahrar (JuA), which have been active in the region for many years. It has also reportedly recruited operatives from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The success of this strategy is manifest in the geographical distribution of the recent attacks, which suggests a logistical penetration and influence that extends from Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Quetta and Peshawar in neighboring Pakistan.” (JF, 15 December 2016)

“IS-K’s initial losses were considerable—it lost its first three emirs to U.S. drone strikes in just two years. However, the group was nevertheless able to maintain its rudimentary structure, and the eventual inflow of jihadists following the fall of the main IS operations in Iraq and Syria has paved the way for further development. A change in the leadership of the Afghan Taliban has allowed IS-K to consolidate, and Akhundzada [Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, leader of the Taliban], in the midst of this year’s spring offensive, appears unwilling to risk rupturing relations with an entrenched IS-K and open up fighting on another front.” (JF, 14 June 2018)

“In 2017, ISIL suffered many casualties but continued to grow gradually in overall numbers. It held on to reduced territory in its main stronghold, Afghanistan’s eastern region, where it is reported to be balancing its forces to be less concentrated in Nangarhar Province and more concentrated in Kunar Province. It was also able to establish presences in many other provinces across the country. A breakaway Taliban faction declared for ISIL in Jowzjan Province in the north, where the presence of ethnic Central Asian supporters of ISIL is a concern for the States of the region. The impact of ISIL has been in the form of mass casualty attacks, mainly in Kabul, against Afghan government and Shiite targets.” (UN Security Council, 30 May 2018, p. 3)

The March 2018 German-language expert opinion on Afghanistan by Friederike Stahlmann provides further information on non-state actors in Afghanistan (Stahlmann, 28 March 2018, section 3.1)

2. Security Situation in Kabul

For information from 2012 through to 2015, see the following archived version of this featured topic: https://www.ecoi.net/en/document/1422774.html

“Security in Kabul has sharply deteriorated throughout 2016.” (BBC News, 22 December 2016)

„Det var i perioden fra januar til ultimo august 2016 en reduksjon i antallet høyprofilerte, komplekse selvmordsangrep i Kabul by sammenlignet med tidligere år. Mens det i de siste årene i gjennomsnitt har vært to til tre komplekse angrep i måneden, ble det i de første åtte månedene av 2016 gjennomført ett til to angrep per måned. Ved månedsskiftet august/september 2016 var det gjennomført 14 komplekse angrep (fire av disse i august), hvilket representerte en nedgang sammenlignet med samme periode i 2015, da det ble gjennomført 22 komplekse selvmordsangrep i byen. I samme periode i 2014 var tallet 18 (internasjonal kilde, e-post 2016). […]

Taliban antas å ha stått bak de fleste komplekse angrepene i Kabul by i 2016. Unntakene dreier seg blant annet om de tre tilfellene hvor Daesh har påtatt seg ansvar for angrepene. I det ene selvmordsangrepet som ble utført av Daesh den 23. juli 2016 (se blant annet Landinfo 2016), var det hazaraer som ble rammet. Det andre av Daesh’ angrep, var mot en shia-moske i forbindelse med ashura-feiringen i oktober 2016 og det tredje angrepet var et selvmordsangrep mot en shia-moske. Angrepene skiller seg fra Talibans fremgangsmåte ved at de rettes mot klart sivile mål og ikke mot myndigheter, afghanske sikkerhetsstyrker eller vestlige interesser, og også fordi det var målrettede angrep direkte mot den afghanske shiabefolkningen.” (Landinfo, 25 November 2016, p. 10-11)

“UNAMA continued to document the highest levels of civilian casualties in Kabul province, mainly from indiscriminate attacks in Kabul city. […] 88 per cent resulted from suicide and complex attacks carried out by Anti-Government Elements in Kabul city.” (UNAMA, 15 February 2018, p. 4)

In Kabul province, UNAMA documented 1,831 civilian casualties (479 deaths and 1,352 injured) between January and December 2017, a 4 per cent increase compared to the year 2016. The leading cause for civilian casualties in the province were suicide and complex attacks, followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and targeted/deliberate killings. (UNAMA, 15 February 2018, p. 67)

2.1. Timeline of incidents in Kabul since January 2017

For a timeline from January 2011 to December 2012 see the following archived version of this featured topic: http://www.ecoi.net/local_link/249674/360146_en.html

For a timeline from January 2013 to December 2013 see the following archived version of this featured topic: http://www.ecoi.net/local_link/270108/385159_en.html

For a timeline from January 2014 to December 2014 see the following archived version of this featured topic: http://www.ecoi.net/local_link/304849/428111_en.html

For a timeline from January 2015 to December 2015, see the following archived version of this featured topic: https://www.ecoi.net/local_link/335466/464119_en.html

For a timeline from January 2016 to December 2016, see the following archived version of this featured topic: https://www.ecoi.net/en/document/1421882.html

JULY 2018

“Several people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a convoy in Kabul early on July 26. According to preliminary reports, a car bomber attacked a convoy of the Afghan national intelligence agency. There were conflicting reports of the number of casualties or whether the victims were civilians or Afghan security personnel. Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai was quoted by Reuters as saying that four people were killed and five wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it had caused "dozens" of casualties among the security forces.” (RFE/RL, 26 July 2018)

“Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that three rockets were fired into Kabul’s fifth district on July 24, injuring three people. He said the rockets were fired from an unknown location. He added that the police have launched an investigation into the explosions. (RFE/RL, 24 July 2018)

“Fourteen people have died in a blast which rocked Kabul airport shortly after Afghan Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum returned from self-imposed exile, according to police. Gen Dostum was unhurt in the attack on a square he had just passed through. Militant group Islamic State has said it carried out the attack. Hashmat Estankzai, of Kabul police, said nine security forces members and traffic officers were among the 14 who had died, while another 60 people had been injured, according to news agency AFP.” (BBC News, 23 July 2018)

“Afghan police say they have shot and killed a suspected suicide bomber as he approached a demonstration in the capital Kabul. Police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said the suspect was shot by police near a gathering in the Shar-e Naw park in Kabul's main business area on July 16, adding that the man was apprehended but died of his wounds.” (RFE/RL, 16 July 2018)

“A suicide body-borne improvised explosive device (SBBIED) attack killed at least seven people and wounded more than 15 others in Kabul on Sunday, July 15. The assailant reportedly detonated the explosive charge at the gate of the parking area of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in the Darulaman neighborhood at around 16:30 (local time), as staff were departing the ministry at the end of the working day. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Police had reportedly cordoned off Southbound Darulaman Road as of 17:45; it is unclear if the cordon is still in place.” (GardaWorld, 15 July 2018)

JUNE 2018

“A magnetic improvised explosive device (MIED) detonated on a government vehicle in Kabul's Kota Sangi (Police District 5) area at approximately 21:40 (local time) on Saturday, June 30, wounding at least one person. Early reports indicate the target was either a National Directorate of Security (NDS) or a Ministry of Public Health vehicle. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Police cordons and traffic restrictions were put in place immediately after the attack and localized transportation disruptions should be expected in the coming hours.” (GardaWorld, 30 June 2018)

“Two people were killed and three wounded in a shooting attack carried out around 20:30 (local time) on Thursday, June 28, at the Ferdowsi Park in the PD9 area of Kabul. One of the two deceased was a senior police official from Paktika province who had reportedly survived several previous assassination attempts. All three injured people were civilians. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.” (GardaWorld, 29 June 2018)

„A senior special forces commander with Afghanistan's police was shot dead in Kabul late on June 28 as he picnicked with his family in the Makrorayan area of the capital, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry says. […] Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the attack in a telephone interview.” (RFE/RL, 29 June 2018)

“At least 13 people have been killed and 31 wounded in a suicide bombing at a government ministry in Afghanistan. Women and children were among the casualties, according to an official. […] The Islamic State group (IS) said it was behind the attack, which came just days after the Taliban agreed to its first-ever truce with the government.” (BBC News, 11 June 2018)

“Afghan security officials say a suicide bomb explosion hit a gathering of the country's top religious body in Kabul, killing at least seven people and wounding nine. Shortly before the June 4 attack, the Afghan Ulema Council issued a religious order, or fatwa, against suicide bombings and urged peace talks to end the Afghan conflict. […] The Islamic State extremist group later claimed responsibility for the blast, which it said had killed 70 people, without providing evidence.” (RFE/RL, 5 June 2018)

“The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing attack targeting religious scholars in Kabul's 5th district on Monday, June 4, which killed at least 14 people and wounded 19 others. The attack reportedly took place at the entrance of the Loya Jirga tent near Kabul Polytechnic University at around 11:30 (local time) as a religious conference drew to a close.“ (Garda World, 4 June 2018)[xxi]

A second explosion was reported in the Kote Sangi area of Kabul around 12:00 on Monday. According to reports, a magnetic bomb detonation targeted a police vehicle, wounding three people. It was not immediately clear which group carried out this attack. Additional militant attacks, including by IS fighters, are possible in Kabul in the near-term.” (Garda World, 4 June 2018)

MAY 2018

“An attack on Afghanistan's Interior Ministry in Kabul has been repelled with one policeman and all of the attackers being killed in the latest in a series of militant attacks in the city. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the first checkpoint of the Afghan Interior Ministry compound in Kabul before gunmen exchanged fire with the security forces, officials say. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, involved seven gunmen who were killed by security forces, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish told RFE/RL more than an hour after the May 30 assault was launched. One police officer died and six other people were wounded in the attack, he added.” (RFE/RL, 30 May 2018)

“On Wednesday, May 9, three explosions and gunfire were reported shortly before 13:00 (local time) in the center of Kabul. According to initial reports, two attacks were carried out by three suicide bombers in two different police stations. One explosion is attributed to a suicide bomber at the entrance of the PD13 police headquarters in the Dasht-e Barchi area, while two other suicide bombers struck less than 20 minutes later in the PD10 in the Shahr-e Naw area. Gunfire has also been reported in the above areas. At least six individuals have been injured.” (GardaWorld, 9 May 2018)[xvii]

“Afghan authorities say police shot dead a suicide bomber on May 7 as he was apparently preparing to attack an outdoor blood-donor facility in central Kabul.” (RFE/RL, 7 May 2018)

APRIL 2018

“On Monday, April 30, dual suicide bombing attacks in Kabul killed at least 29 people and wounded over 49 others. Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) claimed responsibility for the attacks.” (GardaWorld, 1 May 2018) “[T]he Afghan Journalists Center (AFCJ) said at least nine journalists died in the April 30 attacks” (RFE/RL, 30 April 2018). “[F]our police officers […] were among the dead, officials say. So far, 45 people have been reported injured” (BBC News, 30 April 2018).

“A suicide bomb attack at a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 57 people, officials say. The dead include 21 women and five children, killed when the blast hit the queue outside. A further 119 people were injured. The Islamic State group (IS) said it had carried out the attack” (BBC News, 22 April 2018). “[O]n April 24, the Health Ministry raised the death toll from an April 22 suicide bombing by the extremist group Islamic State (IS) in Kabul to 60, after three more victims died in the hospital” (RFE/RL, 24 April 2018). According to a later GardaWorld report 69 people were killed and 120 others were wounded in the aforementioned attack. (GardaWorld, 1 May 2018)

MARCH 2018

“Afghan officials say a bomb that exploded on March 24 near a protest site in Kabul has killed one person and wounded 13 others. The sit-in camp was started earlier in March by Afghans who support Pakistani Pashtuns who are demonstrating in Islamabad against what they call "an encounter killing" by Pakistani police.” (RFE/RL, 24 March 2018)

“At least 31 people have been killed and 65 wounded in a suspected suicide bomb attack near a shrine in the Afghan capital Kabul [on 21 March], officials say. Initial reports suggest the bomber attacked a crowd of hundreds of people who had gathered to celebrate the start of Nowruz, the New Year festival. Many in the crowd were minority Shia. Reports say the number killed may rise. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed the bombing.” (BBC News, 21 March 2018) In a later report GardaWorld raised the death toll to 33. (GardaWorld 1 May 2018)

“Afghan officials say at least three people have been killed and two others wounded in a suicide car-bomb attack that apparently targeted a foreign security company in Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast that hit the Despechari area in the east of the Afghan capital in the morning of March 17.” (RFE/RL, 17 March 2018)

“An Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber blew himself up in Kabul's Shi'ite area on March 9, killing at least nine people, officials said. One police officer was among those killed in the attack […] Afghan Interior Ministry deputy spokesperson Nusrat Rahimi told RFE/RL that at least nine people were killed and 18 others were wounded in the attack. The IS group in a statement posted on an IS-affiliated website said it was behind the Kabul attack.” (RFE/RL, 9 March 2018)

“A suspected suicide bomb attack in an eastern district of Kabul on March 2 killed a 6-year-old girl and wounded 14 other people, Afghan officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the blast was ‘a car bombing targeting a foreign forces’ convoy in the Qabel Bay district of the Afghan capital. […] No more details were immediately available. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing.” (RFE/RL, 2 March 2018)

FEBRUARY 2018

“The Afghan Interior Ministry says a former lawmaker and his bodyguard were gunned down in the capital, Kabul. Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said Rafiullah Gul Afghan and his bodyguard were shot dead late February 24 when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the northern Kabul neighborhood of Khair Khana. Danish said the attackers escaped the scene of the crime and an investigation had been launched into the killings. […] No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.” (RFE/RL, 25 February 2018)

“A suicide attack in the capital Kabul left at least three security officers dead. […] In Kabul, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in an area dotted with key diplomatic buildings. "I was driving nearby when I heard a big explosion, the windows of my car were smashed. I saw several wounded people on the street near me," a witness told Afghan channel Tolonews TV.

Jihadist group Islamic State said it carried out the attack, Reuters reported.” (BBC News, 24 February 2018)

JANUARY 2018

“The Afghan Defense Ministry says militants struck an army compound near the country’s main military academy in Kabul, killing at least 11 soldiers and wounding 16 others. The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the January 29 attack through its Amaq news agency.” (RFE/RL, 29 January 2018)

“A suicide bombing has killed at least 95 people and injured 158 others in the centre of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, officials say. Attackers drove an ambulance laden with explosives past a police checkpoint in a secure zone, home to government offices and foreign embassies. The Taliban have said they carried out the attack, the deadliest for months.” (BBC News, 28 January 2018)

“Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak announced on Sunday afternoon at a joint security press conference that the death toll following Saturday’s deadly bombing in Kabul was now at 103 and 235 were wounded. He said many police officers were among the dead but did not give details. But he did say that among the wounded were 30 police officers.” (Tolo News, 28 January 2018)[xviii]

“At least 22 people have now been reported killed in a siege by gunmen at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, the health ministry says. The attack ended more than 12 hours after gunmen in army uniforms entered the hotel around 21:00 local time (16:30 GMT) on Saturday. The Taliban said their fighters were behind the attack. Sources told national news channel, Tolo News, that the death toll could be as high as 43. […] The gunmen - armed with rocket-propelled grenades as well as smaller weapons - took many of the guests hostage. […] Several guests were pictured using bed sheets to try to climb down from a top-floor balcony. All six attackers have reportedly been killed.” (BBC News, 22 January 2018)

“The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today releases its preliminary findings in to the suicide attack in Kabul on 4 January that killed 13 civilians and injured an additional 19. The attack, claimed by Islamic State, took place in the evening when the bomber detonated his body-borne improvised explosive device after the arrival of anti-riot police at a violent disturbance between security officials and shopkeepers that had been ongoing for several hours in the east of the capital. Twelve of the 13 slain were police officials, performing legitimate law enforcement functions of helping to restore order and safety for civilians during a violent incident.” (UNAMA, 7 January 2018)

DECEMBER 2017

“At least 41 people have been killed and more than 80 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in the Afghan capital, Kabul. A Shia cultural organisation was the target but the Afghan Voice news agency was also hit. So-called Islamic State said it was behind the attack. The interior ministry told the BBC an explosion at the Shia centre was followed by at least two more blasts.” (BBC News, 28 December 2017)

NOVEMBER 2017

“At least 11 people have been killed in a suicide attack on a Kabul rally by supporters of Mohammad Atta Noor, the powerful governor of Afghanistan's northern Balkh Province. Noor, an outspoken critic of President Ashraf Ghani's national-unity government and a former factional militia leader in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, was not attending the November 16 rally at the time of the attack. Kabul police told RFE/RL that at least nine police officers and two civilians were among those killed in the suicide bombing. Police said at least seven officers were injured in the blast.” (RFE/RL, 16 November 2017)

“An Afghan television station has returned to air just hours after an attack by militants left at least one staff member dead. Gunmen disguised as police officers stormed the Shamshad TV building in the Afghan capital Kabul. So-called Islamic State later said it was behind the attack. But soon after Afghan security forces brought the raid under control, a Shamshad anchor was back on the channel, reporting on the assault. At least three attackers were involved, armed with guns and grenades. The station said one blew himself up at the entrance gate while another went up to the roof to fire at security forces.” (BBC News, 7 November 2017)

OCTOBER 2017

“At least four people have been killed and 13 injured in a suicide attack in central Kabul, Afghan officials say. A spokesman for Kabul police told the BBC the bomber was thought to be as young as 12 or 13. The so-called Islamic State has said it was behind the attack.” (BBC News, 31 October 2017)

„At least 15 military cadets have been killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghan officials say, bringing the death toll of a week of attacks by various militant groups to around 200.

Defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said four others were wounded in the explosion at the gates of Marshal Fahim military academy, as they were leaving by minibus.

The bomber was on foot. The Taliban have said they carried out the attack.” (BBC News, 21 October 2017)

“The October 20 attacks targeted a Shi'ite mosque in the capital, Kabul, and a Sunni mosque in the central Afghan province of Ghor. An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said that the death toll in the Kabul attack had risen to at least 56 people. At least 55 people were also injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up as worshippers were gathering for prayers at the Imam Zaman mosque in the western Dasht-e-Barchi section of the capital. The extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul.” (RFE/RL, 21 October 2017)

SEPTEMBER 2017

“A suicide bomber has killed at least five people near a Shia mosque in Kabul ahead of the major religious commemoration of Ashura. The attacker disguised himself as a shepherd in order to approach the mosque, Kabul police's criminal investigative director told AFP.

‘The bomber was grazing a herd of sheep and before reaching his target he detonated,’ General Salim Almas said. So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the attack.

At least 20 people were injured.” (BBC News, 29 September 2017)

“A US air strike against militants in the Afghan capital Kabul caused civilian casualties after a missile malfunctioned, officials said. The strike was in support of Afghan troops fighting insurgents who attacked Kabul airport with rockets shortly after US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived on a visit. It is not clear how many civilians were killed or injured.” (BBC News, 27 September 2017)

“Afghan security officials say at least three civilians were wounded on September 24 when a suicide car bomber attacked a Danish military convoy from the NATO-led international mission in Kabul. […] A Taliban spokesman said a Taliban fighter carried out the attack, claiming up to 16 U.S. soldiers were killed or injured.” (RFE/RL, 24 September 2017)

“A Finnish aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan in May has been freed, Finland's foreign ministry says.” (BBC News, 14 September 2017)

“At least three people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up while attempting to enter a cricket stadium in the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials say. Police said the September 13 blast also injured at least seven people near the Kabul International Cricket Stadium, where hundreds of fans were watching a tournament involving both Afghan and foreign players.” (RFE/RL, 13 September 2017)

AUGUST 2017

“Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has blown himself up at a bank in the center of Kabul, killing at least five people and wounding eight others. […] The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted security-forces personnel withdrawing their salaries.” (RFE/RL, 29 August 2017)

“Suicide bombers and gunmen, some dressed in police uniforms, attacked a mosque in Kabul during prayers on Friday, killing more than 40 people and wounding more than 100, according to mosque leaders. Many of the victims were women trapped on the mosque's second floor. The United Nations put the preliminary toll at 20 civilians killed and more than 30 wounded, while the Interior Ministry said 28 people died and 50 were wounded.” (Thomson Reuters, 26 August 2017)[xxii]

JULY 2017

“Afghan security forces battled gunmen following a suicide attack outside the Iraqi embassy in the capital, Kabul. A bomber blew himself up at the embassy's gate, then three other attackers entered the compound, the Afghan interior ministry said. Two Afghan embassy employees were killed, and three people, including a police officer, were injured, a spokesperson told the BBC. So-called Islamic State (IS) said it carried out the attack. After a gunfight lasting several hours, Afghan authorities said the attack was over and all the assailants had been killed.” (BBC News, 31 July 2017)

“Police in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have opened fire on anti-government protesters, killing at least one person, officials say. The authorities moved in early on Tuesday to break up a makeshift protest camp in the city centre. Several others were injured. Protests began almost three weeks ago, after a massive vehicle bomb in the city centre left more than 150 dead. Demonstrators accuse the government of failing to provide security.” (BBC News, 20 June 2017)

JUNE 2017

Authorities in Afghanistan say a bomb and gun attack on a Shi'ite mosque in Kabul has killed five people. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the June 15 attack. Deputy Interior Minister Murad Ali Murad said that two bombers carried it out and that six people were wounded in addition to the five dead.” (RFE/RL, 15 June 2017)

“On Saturday 3 June 2017, with people still reeling from the events of the day before, debates on whether to continue and possibly escalate the demonstrations were ongoing. Afghan police and intelligence officials however urged Kabul’s inhabitants to stay indoors, citing a threat of possible attacks that could target large gatherings of people […]. There were no demonstrations, but people did gather for the funerals.

One of the main funerals, attended by leading politicians (mainly but not exclusively from Jamiat), was the one of Ezadyar’s son. It took place at the same cemetery where former Jamiati leader Marshal Fahim was buried, in Kabul’s northern Saray-e Shamali area. While the mourners lined up for prayers, three explosions tore through the second or third row (see dramatic footage here), killing at least 20 and injuring 119. According to the NDS the attackers had used explosive-rigged shoes.” (Van Bijlert/ Ruttig, 4 June 2017)[xxiii]

“On 1 June 2017, in an initial response, dozens of mainly young Kabulis gathered at the blast site for a vigil. Among other slogans, the protestors demanded the execution of ‘Daesh prisoners.’ […] When demonstrators returned the following day, on 2 June 2017, in large numbers, the mood was more much tense and anti-government, and there was an array of agendas on display. There were calls for the government to resign in favour of an interim government. […] At least part of the crowd wanted to march on to the presidential palace; they were stopped by the police which was out in the streets in strength. The situation turned tense as the security forces used water cannons, tear gas and batons and, at some point, live ammunition, killing a number of protestors. […] The police chief alleged that protesters had been carrying weapons and had fired at the police, wounding four officers. […] One of the dead was Salem Ezadyar, the son of a leading Jamiati politician and current deputy chairman of the Meshrano Jirga, or Senate.” (Van Bijlert/ Ruttig, 4 June 2017)

MAY 2017

“The Afghan government has raised the death toll from a huge truck-bomb blast in the center of Kabul to 90. The Afghan government's media center said 400 people were also wounded in the May 31 explosion, which ripped through Kabul's diplomatic quarter at the peak of the morning rush hour during the holy month of Ramadan, shattering windows far from the site and sending black smoke into the sky. The Health Ministry warned that the toll would continue to rise as more bodies were pulled from the debris.” (RFE/RL, 31 May 2017)

“As a result, not only police and security company personnel that manned the nearby check-post, but large numbers of Afghan civilians were harmed – an estimated 90 people killed and further 460 injured, some so badly that it will affect them for the rests of their lives. […]

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, from neither the Taleban or Daesh’s local ‘Khorasan’ chapter (ISKP), but the Afghan intelligence (NDS), already on the same evening, accused the Haqqani network of having organised the blast, in cooperation with the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI […].” (Van Bijlert/ Ruttig, 4 June 2017)

“Gunmen in the Afghan capital Kabul have attacked a guesthouse, killing a German woman and beheading an Afghan guard. The attackers stormed a guesthouse run by a Swedish NGO, Operation Mercy, at about 23:30 (19:00 GMT) on Saturday, the Afghan interior ministry said. A second woman, from Finland, is missing and has possibly been kidnapped, the ministry said.” (BBC News, 21 May 2017)

“A suicide attack on a convoy belonging to the Nato mission in Afghanistan has killed at least eight people in Kabul, officials say. The victims were all civilians, a government spokesman said. About 25 other people were injured, including three US service members. The attack on the group of military vehicles happened next to the US embassy during the morning rush hour. So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the attack.” (BBC News, 3 May 2017)

APRIL 2017

“At least five people have been killed and several others injured in a suicide bombing in Kabul, the Afghan Interior Ministry says. The blast occurred near the Defense Ministry compound and other government institutions on April 11, when thousands of ministry staff were leaving their offices for the day. A Defense Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying the victims included both civilians and members of the Afghan security forces. The spokesman also said the target appeared to be a police post. The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed the attack through its unofficial news agency, Amaq, saying the bomber targeted a checkpoint.” (RFE/RL, 12 April 2017)

MARCH 2017

“Afghan officials say the death toll in an attack on a military hospital in Kabul has risen to 49. Salim Rassouli, director of Kabul hospitals, said on March 9 that 49 people were killed in the attack on the Sardar Mohammad Khan military hospital on March 8, and at least 63 wounded. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack in which gunmen dressed as health workers shot doctors, patients, and visitors at the 400-bed hospital. Health Ministry spokesman Qamaruddin Sediqi confirmed the death toll of 49 but put the number of people wounded at 76. Other officials said 90 people were wounded.” (RFE/RL, 9 March 2017)

“Almost simultaneous attacks in Kabul have left at least 16 people dead and 44 injured, the health ministry says. The two suicide attacks took place at about midday local time (07:30 GMT) on Wednesday, targeting a police station and intelligence agency offices. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.” (BBC News, 1 March 2017)

FEBRUARY 2017

“At least 20 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan's Supreme Court in Kabul, officials say. The government said 41 people were injured, 10 of them critically. All of the casualties are civilians. The bomber targeted the car park of the court compound as employees were leaving to go home, reports say. There was no immediate claim for the attack, which follows a number of deadly bombings by the Taliban and other militants in recent months” (BBC News, 7 Februar 2017). “Islamic State claimed responsibility on Wednesday for a suicide attack that killed at least 22 people outside Afghanistan's Supreme Court. The bomber, identified as Abu Bakr Altajiki by the militant group, detonated an explosive belt as court employees were leaving work in downtown Kabul on Tuesday evening.” (Reuters, 8 February 2017)

JANUARY 2017

“Afghan officials say twin bombings near parliament in Kabul killed at least 38 people on January 10, while a powerful blast at a government guesthouse in southern Kandahar left at least seven dead, including five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates. The initial blast in Kabul struck about 4 p.m. as employees were leaving a compound of government and legislative offices, Interior Ministry spokesman Sadiq Sadiqi said. Sadiqi told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that a suicide bomber blew himself up, followed by a car bomb in the same area in "what appears to have been a coordinated attack." The second explosion occurred after security forces had arrived at the scene. According to some reports, another vehicle with explosives was stopped by security forces near the area. Health officials say more than 70 people were wounded in the bombings, which were claimed by the Taliban.” (RFE/RL, 11 January 2017)


3. Sources

(all links accessed 6 August 2018)


[i] The US Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a public policy research arm of the US Congress.

[ii] The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation.

[iii] Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a US-based international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

[iv]The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is a US government body that provides oversight on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

[v] The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is a political UN mission established on 28 March 2002 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1401.

[vi] The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a United Nations agency with the mandate to protect and support refugees and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement to a third country.

[vii] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a US government-funded broadcasting organisation that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

[viii] Tolo News is an Afghan news and current affairs broadcaster.

[ix] The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) is an international NGO network which, through reporting and capacity building, aims at promoting journalism to secure human rights, raise awareness and strengthen civil society.

[x] Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) is an independent news agency headquartered in Kabul.

[xi] The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster headquartered in London.

[xii] Friederike Stahlmann is a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Germany) with a focus on Afghanistan.

[xiii] The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is an agency of the US federal government mainly responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.

[xiv] The US Department of State (USDOS) is the US federal executive department mainly responsible for international affairs and foreign policy issues.

[xv] The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a Brussels-based transnational non-profit, non-governmental organization that carries out field research on violent conflict and advances policies to prevent, mitigate or resolve conflict.

[xvi] The UN Security Council is an organ of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.

[xvii] The Jamestown Foundation (JF) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides information on terrorism, the former Soviet republics, Chechnya, China, and North Korea.

[xviii] The Norwegian Country of Origin Information Center Landinfo is an independent body within the Norwegian immigration authorities that provides COI services to various actors within Norway’s immigration authorities.

[xix] Antonio Giustozzi is an Afghanistan scholar and Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies of King’s College London.

[xx] Borhan Osman is an analyst for the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), an independent non-profit policy research organisation headquartered in Kabul which provides analysis on Afghanistan and its surrounding region.

[xxi] GardaWorld is an internationally operating private security firm headquartered in Canada.

[xxii] Thomson Reuters is a New York and Toronto-based multinational mass media and information firm.

[xxiii] Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig are co-directors of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).

This featured topic was prepared after researching solely on ecoi.net and within time constraints. It is meant to offer an overview on an issue and is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status, asylum or other form of international protection. Chronologies are not intended to be exhaustive. Every quotation is referred to with a hyperlink to the respective document.

Source
ACCORD – Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation
Published
9 August 2018

1. Overview of security in Afghanistan
1.1. Security in the country
1.2. State and Non-State Actors
1.2.1. Afghan Government and Security Forces
1.2.2. Insurgent Groups
2. Security Situation in Kabul
2.1. Timeline of incidents in Kabul since January 2017
3. Sources