A string of explosions struck Taliban vehicles in Afghanistan’s provincial city of Jalalabad over the weekend, killing eight people, among them Taliban fighters.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The Taliban are under pressure to contain ISIS militants, in part to make good on a promise to the international community that they will prevent the staging of terror attacks from Afghan soil.
There is also a widely held expectation among conflict-weary Afghans that the new rulers will at least restore a measure of public safety.
“We thought that since the Taliban have come, peace will come,” said Feda Mohammad, a brother of an 18-year-old rickshaw driver who was killed in one of September 19th’s blasts, along with a 10-year-old cousin.
“But there’s no peace, no security. You can’t hear anything except the news of bomb blasts killing this one or that,” Mohammad said.
The weekend bomb blasts served as a reminder of the threat the militants pose.
On September 21st, the Taliban said that there was no evidence of Islamic State or al Qaeda militants being in the country, despite the attacks.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected accusations that al-Qaeda maintained a presence in Afghanistan and repeated pledges that there would be no attacks on third countries from Afghanistan from militant movements.
“We do not see anyone in Afghanistan who has anything to do with al Qaeda,” he told a news conference in Kabul. “We are committed to the fact that, from Afghanistan, there will not be any danger to any country.”
On August 26th, as American and foreign troops completed their withdrawal and frantic airlift from the country, ISIS suicide bombers targeted U.S. evacuation efforts outside Kabul international airport in one of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in years. The blast killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.
The events have bolstered fears of more violence, as ISIS militants exploit the vulnerability of an overstretched Taliban government facing massive security challenges and an economic meltdown.
“They’re making a very dramatic comeback,” Ibraheem Bahiss, an International Crisis Group consultant and an independent research analyst said of Islamic State. “There could be a long-term struggle between the groups.”
Despite the significant Kabul Airport attack, Mujahid denied the movement had any genuine presence in Afghanistan though he said it “invisibly carries out some cowardly attacks”.
“The ISIS that exists in Iraq and Syria does not exist here. Still, some people who may be our own Afghans have adopted the ISIS mentality, which is a phenomenon that the people do not support,” he said.
“The security forces of the Islamic Emirate are ready and will stop them,” he said.
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