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

For information on the security situation in Afghanistan during the period from January 2010 to September 2018, see the following report:

2018

“The Taliban is reported to continue its offensive to gain increased control over a larger number of districts, while Islamic State are reported to be increasingly demonstrating their ability to expand their geographical reach, further destabilizing the security situation.” (UNHCR, 30 August 2018, p. 18)[i]

“Hanif Atmar, der Chef des afghanischen Nationalen Sicherheitsrats (NSR) und damit wohl zweitmächtigster Mann im Land, ist am 25.8.18 zurückgetreten. […] Berichten aus Afghanistan zufolge hatte Präsident Aschraf Ghani Atmar wegen jüngst gehäufter erheblicher Sicherheitsvorfälle zum Rücktritt aufgefordert (auch die beiden Minister und den gleichrangigen Geheimdienstchef – aber diese wohl nur als Schuss vor den Bug). Zu diesen Vorfällen gehören laut afghanischen Medienberichten die fünftägige Besetzung der Großstadt Ghasni durch die Taleban Mitte August, die offenbar stark erhöhte Zahl der Verluste der afghanischen Streitkräfte (genaue Zahlen werden weiter trotz gegenteiliger Ankündigungen Ghanis geheim gehalten) sowie der Mörserangriff am 21.8.18 auf Kabul während einer Rede Ghanis zum Eid-al-Adha-Fest.“ (Ruttig, 27 August 2018)[ii]

“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says more than 45,000 members of the country's security forces have been killed since he became leader in 2014.” (BBC News, 25 January 2019)[iii]

“Since SIGAR began receiving district-control data in November 2015, Afghan government control and influence over its districts has declined by more than 18 percentage points; contested districts have increased by about 13 points; and insurgent control or influence has risen by about five points.” (SIGAR, 30 January 2019, p. 71)[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 November 2015:

(SIGAR, 30 January 2019, p. 70)

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 January 2019, p. 71)

According to RS [Resolute Support Mission], as of October 22, 2018, there were 219 districts under Afghan government control (74) or influence (145), 53.8% of the total number of districts. This represents a decrease of seven government-controlled or influenced districts compared to last quarter and eight since the same period in 2017. Insurgent control or influence of Afghanistan’s districts increased marginally: there were 50 districts under insurgent control (12) or influence (38) this quarter. This is an increase of one district since last quarter, but a decrease of eight compared to the same period in 2017. Therefore, 12.3% of Afghanistan’s districts are now reportedly under insurgent control or influence. The number of contested districts—controlled or influenced by neither the Afghan government nor the insurgency—increased by six since last quarter to 138 districts, meaning that 33.9% of Afghanistan’s districts are now contested.” (SIGAR, 30 January 2019, p. 69)

“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)[v]

“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)[vi]

“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)[vii]

“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)[viii]

“UNAMA’s findings indicate that violence targeting voters and polling centres on the three days on which voting in the parliamentary elections took place caused 435 civilian casualties (56 deaths and 379 injured) in 108 verified incidents of election-related violence, the highest level of civilian harm compared to the four previous elections held in Afghanistan. UNAMA is currently reviewing credible allegations of dozens of additional incidents which resulted in civilian casualties and damaged civilian property.” (UNAMA, November 2018, p. 1)

“The ISIL-KP [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan] presence remained significant in the eastern region, where the group claimed responsibility for three suicide and complex attacks in Nangarhar Province during the reporting period (10 September 2018 - 7 December 2018) and six attacks in Kabul City. However, the robust presence of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in Jalalabad City since August appeared to have a positive impact on the overall security situation in the city. ISIL-KP continued to fight against the Taliban, with armed clashes between the two groups reported in Nangarhar and Kunar Provinces. International military forces continued to target ISIL-KP, conducting a series of air strikes against targets in Deh Bala, Achin, Khogyani, Nazyan and Chaparhar districts of Nangarhar Province.” (UNGA, 7 December 2018, p. 6-7)[ix]

“The number of IS-K [Islamic State Khorasan]-claimed attacks decreased this quarter. According to ACLED [Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project], the group claimed three attacks in Afghanistan this quarter (October 2, 2018, to January 15, 2018) that killed 20 people, compared to 14 claimed attacks last quarter (July 16 to October 1, 2018) that killed 96 people. However, there were 74 attacks this quarter conducted by unidentified armed groups— some of which could have been IS-K—that killed 220 people.” (SIGAR, 30 January 2019, p. 73)

“The armed conflict in Afghanistan continued to harm civilians at unacceptably high levels in 2018, with overall civilian deaths, including child deaths , reaching record high levels. UNAMA documented 10,993 civilian casualties (3,804 deaths and 7,189 injured) as a result of the armed conflict, representing a five per cent increase in overall civilian casualties and an 11 per cent increase in civilian deaths as compared to 2017. There were significant increases in civilian casualties from suicide attacks by Anti-Government Elements, mainly Daesh/Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). This, in addition to increases in harm to civilians from aerial operations and search operations, more than offset the continued decrease in civilian casualties from ground fighting. Suicide attacks and aerial operations each caused the most civilian casualties ever recorded by UNAMA for those tactic types.” (UNAMA, February 2019, p. 1)

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

(UNAMA, February 2019, p. 1)

“In 2018, UNAMA attributed 6,980 civilian casualties (2,243 deaths and 4,737 injured) to Anti-Government Elements, a three per cent increase compared with 2017. The increase came mainly from the indiscriminate use of suicide and other IED tactics in civilian areas and the deliberate targeting of civilians with these devices, mainly by Daesh/ISKP, as well as the use of indirect fire systems such as mortars, grenades and rockets in and from civilian-populated areas during ground engagements. […] UNAMA attributed 4,072 civilian casualties (1,348 deaths and 2,724 injured) to Taliban, a seven per cent decrease compared with 2017, comprising 37 per cent of all civilian casualties. UNAMA attributed 2,181 civilian casualties (681 deaths and 1,500 injured) to Daesh/ISKP, an increase of 118 per cent compared to 2017, comprising 20 per cent of all civilian casualties. UNAMA attributed 678 civilian casualties (196 deaths and 482 injured) to undetermined Anti-Government Elements. […]

UNAMA documented 2,612 civilian casualties (1,185 deaths and 1,427 injured) attributed to Pro-Government Forces, a 24 per cent increase in civilian casualties as compared to 2017. The increase was mainly driven by a significant increase in civilian casualties resulting from aerial operations by international military forces as well as from search operations conducted by Afghan national security forces and pro-Government armed groups. Aerial operations and ground engagements caused the same number of civilian casualties, and were the two leading cause s of civilian casualties attributed to Pro - Government Forces in 2018. UNAMA attributed 1,535 civilian casualties (606 deaths and 929 injured) to Afghan national security forces, approximately the same number as in 2017. UNAMA attributed 674 civilian casualties (406 deaths and 268 injured) to international military forces, mainly from aerial operations, which is more than the number recorded in 2017. Pro-Government armed groups caused 180 civilian casualties (99 deaths and 81 injured), approximately double the number from 2017.” (UNAMA, February 2019, pp. 4-5)

According to USAID[x], iMMAP[xi] and the World Health Organization’s (WHO)[xii] Health Cluster, in the period between January and November 2018 there have been 85 security incidents targeting health centres and health workers in 21 provinces. (USAID, et al., 19 December 2018)

“This year’s increase in the number of media fatalities is due in part to bombings and shootings targeting the media in Afghanistan, which was the world’s deadliest country for journalists and media workers in 2018, with a total of 15 killed in violent attacks.” (RSF, 14 December 2018, p. 8) [xiii]

“In December, 2018 […], 1,121 people lost their lives and 475 others wounded during 140 different attacks” (PAN, 3 February 2019) [xiv]

“Pajhwok reports based on different sources show 1,262 people were killed and another 720 injured in 28 out of the country’s 34 provinces during the month [November 2018].” (PAN, 2 December 2018)

“Violence in Afghanistan killed and injured 2,552 people in October with 91 percent spike in attacks compared to September and two percent decline in casualties. […] According to Pajhwok report, 374 attacks took place in October in different parts of the country while 196 attacks took place in September. Pajhwok reports based on different sources showed 1,398 people were killed and 1,154 injured in 31 out of 34 provinces of the country.” (PAN, 3 November 2018)

“Attacks decreased by 33 percent in August compared to July in Afghanistan, leaving 1,641 people dead and another 1,113 injured in 30 out of the country’s total 34 provinces. […] According to Pajhwok reports from different areas of the country, there were 163 attacks in August compared to 239 attacks in July.[…] According to Pajhwok reports, 1,754 people lost their lives and another 1,028 were wounded in the month of August.” (PAN, 4 September 2018)

“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)

“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)

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)[xv]

“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, p. 1)

“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)

“In 2018, UNAMA documented 1,015 civilian casualties (536 deaths and 479 injured) from 173 aerial operations conducted by Pro - Government Forces, a 61 per cent increase in civilian casualties from this tactic from 2017. This is the highest number of civilian casualties from airstrikes in a single year since UNAMA began systematic documentation in 2009 and the fourth year in a row in which civilian casualties from aerial operations increased. […] In 2018, approximately the same number of civilians were killed from airstrikes as in 2014, 2015 and 2016 combined.” (UNAMA, February 2019, p. 38)

“Of concern, UNAMA documented an increase in the number of women and child casualties for the fourth year in a row, with an 85 per cent increase in child casualties from aerial operations from 2017. Of the 492 child casualties (236 deaths and 256 injured) caused by this tactic, an airstrike incident in Dasht-e-Archi district, Kunduz Province, by the Afghan Air Force in May 2018, caused 79 child casualties alone.” (UNAMA, February 2019, pp. 38-39)

Between 1 November and 10 January, 49,001 people were newly displaced by the conflict, bringing the total number of displaced in 2018 to 364,883 people. More than half of this figure (58 per cent) comprised children under the age of 18. Although conflict-related displacement in 2018 was down by more than a quarter compared with 2017, many displaced families continued to have no immediate prospect of returning to their areas of origin in safety and dignity.” (UNGA, 28 February 2019, p. 12)

2019

“Efforts towards a negotiated settlement to the conflict intensified, with progress reported in talks between the United States of America and the Taliban. The Government of Afghanistan also continued its preparations for an intra-Afghan peace dialogue, although no formal talks between the Government and the Taliban were held. (UNGA, 28 February 2019, p. 1)

Between 16 November 2018 and 7 February 2019, UNAMA recorded a total of 4,420 security-related incidents, an 8 per cent decrease compared with the same period the year before. The southern region saw the highest number of incidents, followed by the eastern and northern regions, with these three regions accounting for 67 per cent of all incidents. (UNGA, 28 February 2019, p. 6)

“Around 1,000 people were killed and another 800 injured in violence in Afghanistan last month [January 2019], amid peace negotiations and hopes for an end to the bloodshed. In December, 2018, 1,121 people lost their lives and 475 others wounded during 140 different attacks, compared 131 attacks in January.” (PAN, 3 February 2019)

“Around a thousand people suffered casualties in the conflict in February when the fatality rate dropped by 43 percent compared to the previous month. Pajhwok Afghan News reports show that February was the only month in the last two years when casualties fell unprecedentedly and no suicide attacks happened during the period. […] In February, 392 people were killed and 653 others injured. Rebels, security forces and civilians were among the casualties. But Pajhwok could not compile specific casualty figures because different sources provided different accounts”(PAN, 4 March 2019)

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 Ministry of Interior, has primary responsibility for internal order and for the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a community-based self-defense force. The Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF), also under the Ministry of Interior, investigates major crimes including government corruption, human trafficking, and criminal organizations. 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.” (USDOS, 13 March 2019, section 1d)[xvi]

“[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)

“USFOR-A reported that the assigned (actual) personnel strength of the ANDSF as of October 31, 2018, (not including civilians) was 308,693 personnel, which includes 190,753 personnel in the ANA and AAF and 117,940 in the ANP. ANDSF strength this quarter is the lowest it has been since the RS mission began in January 2015. ANDSF strength decreased by 3,635 since last quarter and by 3,983 since the same period in 2017. […]

According to DOD [Department of Defense], the ANDSF’s total authorized (goal) end strength in December remained 352,000 personnel, which includes 227,374 ANA and 124,626 ANP personnel, but excludes 30,000 Afghan Local Police, who are under MOI’s command. […] [T]his quarter’s assigned strength puts the ANDSF at 87.7% (43,307 personnel short) of its authorized strength, down from 88.8% during the same period in 2017.” (SIGAR, 30 January 2019, p. 79)

While [the ANP] 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)[xvii]

“ALP [Afghan Local Police] members, known as “guardians,” are usually local citizens selected by village elders or local leaders to protect their communities against insurgent attack, guard facilities, and conduct local counterinsurgency missions. […]

NSOCC-A [NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan] reported that according to the ALP Staff Directorate, the ALP had roughly 28,000 guardians on hand as of November 11, 2018, roughly 23,000 of whom were fully trained. The ALP’s strength declined by roughly 400 personnel since last quarter, and by about 800 since the same period in 2017.“ (SIGAR, 30 January 2019, p. 100)

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)[xviii]

“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)[xix]

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)[xx]

“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)[xxi]

“[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)[xxii]

“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)[xxiii]

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 [Haqqani Network] is believed to have several hundred core members, but it is estimated that the organization is able to draw upon a pool of upwards of 10,000 fighters. HQN is integrated into the larger Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations operating in the region, including al-Qa’ida and Lashkar e-Tayyiba.

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.

Funding and External Aid: In addition to the funding it receives as part of the broader Afghan Taliban, HQN receives much of its funds from donors in Pakistan and the Gulf, as well as through criminal activities such as kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, and other licit and illicit business ventures.” (USDOS, 19 September 2018a)

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. 20)

“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)

“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)

“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)

“At present, ISIL strongholds in Afghanistan are in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan and Laghman. The total strength of ISIL in Afghanistan is estimated at between 2,500 and 4,000 militants. ISIL is also reported to control some training camps in Afghanistan, and to have created a network of cells in various Afghan cities, including Kabul. The local ISIL leadership maintains close contacts with the group’s core in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq. Important personnel appointments are made through the central leadership, and the publication of propaganda videos is coordinated. Following the killing of ISIL leader Abu Sayed Bajauri on 14 July 2018, the leadership council of ISIL in Afghanistan appointed Mawlawi Ziya ul-Haq (aka Abu Omar Al-Khorasani) as the fourth ‘emir’ of the group since its establishment.” (UN Security Council, 1 February 2019, p. 7)

Strength: Estimates of ISIS-K strength ranged from 1,500 to 3,000 fighters in 2017.

Location/Area of Operation: The group operates in eastern and parts of northern Afghanistan and western Pakistan.

Funding and External Aid: ISIS-K receives some funding from ISIS. Additional funds come from taxes and extortion on the local population and businesses.” (USDOS, 19 September 2018b)

“Fierce fighting between the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), the Afghan chapter of IS, have seen hundreds of militants killed in Jowzjan and Faryab provinces, two provinces in northern Afghanistan considered to be IS-K strongholds. About 300 militants were killed in two weeks of clashes between IS-K and the Taliban, which began on July 25 in the Darzab district of Jowzjan. It was the Taliban’s third major offensive against their rivals, and saw about 200 IS-K fighters hand themselves over to government forces rather than face the Taliban. […] The Taliban reportedly attacked IS-K forces, inflicting heavy losses on the group. Senior commanders on both sides were killed in the fighting.” (JF, 10 August 2018)

“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)

“Throughout 2018, ISIL is assessed to have carried out 38 terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, many of them high profile, including some in Kabul. ISIL targets have included Afghan security forces, the Taliban, North Atlantic Treaty Organization military personnel, diplomats, employees of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, journalists and medical institutions, as well as religious minorities viewed by ISIL as soft targets. ISIL suffered a severe setback in northern Afghanistan during the reporting period. In July 2018, 1,000 Taliban attacked ISIL positions in Jowzjan province, killing 200 ISIL fighters, while 254 ISIL fighters surrendered to government forces and 25 foreign terrorist fighters surrendered to the Taliban.” (UN Security Council, 1 Februar 2019, p. 7)

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 on the security situation in Kabul during the period from January 2010 to November 2018, see the following report:

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)

“Suicide and complex attacks continued to disproportionately affect civilians in Kabul city, which recorded 1,612 civilian casualties (440 deaths and 1,172 injured) – 17 per cent more than in 2016, and 70 per cent of all civilian casualties from these tactics in 2017.” (UNAMA, 15 February 2018, p. 29).

“In 2018, UNAMA documented: 1,866 civilian casualties (596 deaths and 1,270 injured) in Kabul province.” (UNAMA, February 2019, p. 2)

“UNAMA continued to document the disproportionate and extreme harm to residents of Kabul city from suicide and complex attacks. Out of 65 suicide and complex attacks across the country in 2018, 28 incidents occurred in Kabul city causing 1,686 civilian casualties (554 deaths and 1,132 injuries), a five per cent increase in the number of casualties from 2017. The attacks perpetrated in Kabul mainly targeted civilians, including the civilian Government administration, places of worship, education facilities, election-related sites and other ‘soft’ targets” (UNAMA, February 2019, p. 23)

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/1422960.html

For a timeline from January 2017 to December 2017, see the following archived version of this featured topic: https://www.ecoi.net/en/document/2002268.html

MARCH 2019

“Multiple explosions have killed at least six people and wounded 23 near a Shi'ite shrine in Kabul, Afghan officials say. The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility for the March 21 attack, which took place during celebrations marking Norouz, the pre-Islamic Persian new year.” (RFE/RL, 21 March 2019)

“At least four Taliban militants were killed during an operation of the Afghan armed forces against the high-profile attack facilitators of the group in Kabul. Informed military sources said Wednesday ‘In an operation targeting Taliban high-profile attack facilitators in Kabul, Afghan forces killed 4 Taliban fighters and destroyed one vehicle.’” (Khaama Press, 20 March 2019)[xxiv]

“At least two people were killed or wounded in an explosion triggered by a magnetic bomb in Kabul city earlier this morning, the security officials said. Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul Police Commandment, said the incident took place in the vicinity of Kote Sangi area located in 5th police district of the city. He said the blast left the driver of the vehicle dead while another individual was wounded in the explosion. No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the explosion.” (Khaama Press, 16 March 2019)

“An Afghan presidential candidate and eight bodyguards of a rival candidate have been injured by a barrage of mortars that exploded in western Kabul, near a ceremony honoring a prominent Shi'ite leader who was killed by the Taliban more than 20 years ago. Amid conflicting reports about the overall death toll, RFE/RL has confirmed that at least three people were killed in the March 7 attack, which was claimed by the extremist group Islamic State (IS), according to its Amaq news agency mouthpiece.” (RFE/RL, 7 March 2019)

FEBRUARY 2019

One person was killed on Sunday night when a magnetic IED was detonated in Kabul, Kabul police said. Basir Ahmand Muhajid the spokesman for Kabul police confirmed the blast and said that the explosion occurred in Panshir Wat area in Kabul's PD11 when a magnetic IED placed in a vehicle was detonated. […] So far no group has claimed responsibility for the incident. (Tolo News, 18 February 2019)

JANUARY 2019

“At least four people were killed and more than 90 were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a foreign compound in the east of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on January 14, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the blast had targeted Green Village, where some foreign NGOs and workers used to be based. Twenty-three children are among the injured, the ministry's deputy spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi, said.” (RFE/RL, 14 January 2019)

“The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a bombing in Kabul that killed at least four people. The explosion near a fortified foreign compound late on January 14 also wounded 113 people, according to the Health Ministry.” (RFE/RL, 15 January 2019)

DECEMBER 2018

“Afghan officials say at least 43 people were killed after militants stormed government offices in the eastern part of the capital Kabul, triggering an hours-long gun battle. Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said another 25 people were wounded in the December 24 raid on a compound housing the Ministry of Public Works and other offices. Militants stormed the compound after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance, sending government workers running for their lives. […] There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, although similar incidents in the past have been blamed on the Taliban or Islamic State (IS) militants." (RFE/RL, 25 December 2018)

“An Afghan police officer and a security guard have been killed in Kabul during a 24-hour standoff between police and the stepson of Afghanistan's former defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak. Six police officers and a journalist were also wounded in the gunbattle that began on December 3.” (RFE/RL, 4 December 2018)

NOVEMBER 2018

“At least ten people killed as a result of a Taliban attack on Camp Anjuman (Kabul) November 28; remain vigilant. [...] According to security officials, at least ten people were killed and 19 more wounded in an attack launched by Taliban fighters on a private security company's installations at Camp Anjuman (PD [police district] 9, Kabul) on the evening of Wednesday, November 28 (local time). Reports indicate that militants detonated a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) before engaging security forces with small arms fire. Further attacks on high-value targets are possible in Kabul in the near term. The Taliban have issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.” (GardaWorld, 29 November 2018)[xxv]

“Afghan authorities are working to identify those responsible for a suicide bombing that killed at least 55 people and wounded scores more who were attending a religious gathering in Kabul. The victims included religious scholars from all over Afghanistan, invited by the Ulema Council to celebrate the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad on November 20.” (RFE/RL, 21 November 2018)

“At least six people have been killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul targeting a protest by Afghanistan's mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority, officials say. Security officials told RFE/RL that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives on November 12 close to where hundreds of Hazaras were protesting the government's failure to protect their community from Taliban attacks.” (RFE/RL, 12 November 2018)

“A US mayor has been killed in an apparent insider attack while serving with the military in Afghanistan. Brent Taylor, 39, died in Kabul on Saturday [3 November 2018] while serving in the US Army National Guard helping to train members of the Afghan security forces. The mayor of North Ogden, Utah, leaves behind a wife and seven young children. Another service member was wounded during the shooting, the second insider attack against US forces in Afghanistan in the past two weeks. The attacker appeared to have been a member of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, according to the Utah National Guard. He was shot by other Afghan forces after opening fire.” (BBC, 5 November 2018)

OCTOBER 2018

“[On 31 October 2018] a suicide bomber struck outside Afghanistan's largest prison on the eastern edge of Kabul, killing at least seven people, including prison workers and security personnel, officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said that the attacker targeted a bus carrying prison workers early on October 31. The sprawling Pul-e Charkhi prison houses hundreds of inmates, including scores of Taliban militants. According to Abadullah Karimi, a prison official, the attack occurred near the prison gate where a number of visitors were waiting to pass a rigorous security check before entering. Another five were wounded in the blast, the officials said.” (RFE/RL, 31 October 2018)

“A suicide bomber has targeted the headquarters of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul, injuring at least six people in a blast in front of the building. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the October 29 attack, the latest surrounding the country's embattled parliamentary-election process. Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said a suicide attacker on foot blew himself up outside the IEC office early in the day, wounding four employees of the commission and two police officers. However, some unconfirmed reports said the blast killed a police officer and wounded five other people.” (RFE/RL, 29 October 2018)

“Multiple attacks on polling stations killed at least 20 people and injured more than 150 others nationwide on Saturday, October 20. Militants detonated explosive devices across Kabul, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens more, while rocket and motor attacks in the provinces of Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar, and Nangarhar, killed as many as five people.” (GardaWorld, 20 October 2018)

SEPTEMBER 2018

“The Islamic State (IS) militant group has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack near a procession in the Afghan capital commemorating the death of a revered resistance leader that killed at least seven people. In the September 9 attack, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself, killing seven people and injuring 25 others, all civilians, officials said.” (RFE/RL, 10 September 2018)

“The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has claimed responsibility for a twin bomb attack in Kabul on September 5 that killed more than 20 people. The same day, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) issued a statement condemning the attack as ‘a cynical act of terror targeting ordinary citizens of Kabul, along with first responders and journalists.’ More than 70 others were injured in the bombings, which targeted a wrestling club in the mostly Shi'ite area. A suicide bomber blew himself up inside the club, while about 40 minutes later a car bomb went off nearby, targeting rescue workers and journalists.” (RFE/RL, 6 September 2018)

AUGUST 2018

“The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on Kabul's diplomatic quarter and the presidential palace on the morning of Tuesday, August 21 (local time) - the first day of Eid Al-Adha. The attack, launched by nine militants, reportedly left at least six people wounded; security forces engaged the insurgents in clashes which lasted until around noon, killing four of them and forcing the remaining five to surrender.” (GardaWorld, 22 August 2018)

“Militants from the Islamic State (IS) group have said they were behind two recent attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul in which dozens of people died. On Wednesday, 48 people were killed in the bombing of an education centre. Most of them were students studying for university entrance exams. On Thursday, a training centre for the intelligence services was attacked. IS said it carried out the "commando" operation and claimed to have caused high casualties. Afghan officials said at least two militants were killed but did not mention any other deaths or injuries.” (BBC News, 16 August 2018)

“Police officers intercepted a suicide bomber near a protest outside the Independent Election Commission (IEC) compound on Jalalabad Road in Kabul on Monday, August 13. The attacker detonated the device, killing one officer and wounding another.” (GardaWorld, 14 August 2018)

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)

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)

3. Sources

(all links accessed 25 March 2019)



[i] 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.

[ii] Thomas Ruttig is one of the co-directors of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).

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

[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] 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.

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

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

[viii] 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.

[ix] 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.

[x] 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.

[xi] iMMAP is an international non-governmental organisation that provides information management services to humanitarian and development organizations.

[xii] The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.

[xiii] Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) is a Paris-based international non-governmental organisation devoted to protecting freedom of expression by reporting on violations of press freedom.

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

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

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

[xvii] 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.

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

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

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

[xxi] 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.

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

[xxiii] 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.

[xxiv] Khaama Press is an Afghan online news service.

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

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
25 March 2019

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