New reports from Afghanistan indicate that at least 21 people have been killed and 33 have been injured in a bombing in the capital city of Kabul.
The attack took place on Wednesday evening, roughly one year after the Biden administration’s haphazard withdrawal and the rapid collapse of the American-backed government. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but as recently as last week, ISIS killed a prominent Taliban cleric in the capital.
“It was evening prayer time, and I was attending the prayer with others, when the explosion happened,” a witness named Qyaamuddin told the Associated Press. Qyaamuddin estimated that as many as 25 people may have been killed in the explosion. Another eyewitness reported that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.
The Italian Emergency Hospital in Kabul said that at least 27 civilians, including 5 children, were brought there from the blast zone for treatment.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the attacks, promising that “perpetrators of such crimes will soon be brought to justice and will be punished.” Nevertheless, the attack shows that the persistent violent conflict that has plagued the country for decades may be far from over.
Since taking power, the Taliban has faced serious economic problems as much of the international community does not recognize them as a legitimate government and billions of dollars of Afghan assets have been frozen by the U.S. and other nations. Conflict with a local affiliate of ISIS and defectors from the regime pose further problems, although on Wednesday, the Taliban reportedly killed one such defector, Mehdi Mujahid, a former commander of theirs from the predominantly Shiite Hazara ethnic group, who had reportedly been trying to cross into Iran.
The Taliban reportedly remains close with the terrorist group Al Qaeda, and a UN report raised concerns that Afghanistan has become a “safe haven” for them. Earlier this month the United States killed Al Qaeda’s leader and Osama Bin Laden’s mentor/successor Ayman Al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul; Al-Zawahiri had been staying in the home of a high-ranking Taliban official.
The renaissance of Islamic terrorist groups the Afghanistan follows a decades-spanning mission to eliminate those organizations and deny them a safe haven to launch further attacks. While removing the U.S. military presence in the country was broadly popular, President Biden’s handling of the evacuation has been widely pilloried, as over 1,000 Americans and $7 billion worth of military equipment were left behind, and 13 service members were killed in the process.