THE gruesome tactic of attacking funerals is part and parcel of the militant playbook. Several funerals have been attacked, mostly in KP, over the past few years during the height of militant activity in the country. Similar scenes of carnage were witnessed when the funeral of the acting governor of the Afghan province of Badakhshan was targeted in Faizabad, the provincial capital, on Thursday. Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi was killed by a suicide bomber on Tuesday in an attack claimed by the self-styled Islamic State group, and mourners who had gathered for his last rites were targeted in a mosque in a second strike. It is widely believed that IS is also responsible for the latter. At least 15 people have been killed in the mosque blast, while several more received injuries. This is not the first time IS militants have attacked senior members of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement. In January, a suicide bombing caused a high number of casualties outside the Afghan foreign ministry in Kabul, while in March the governor of Balkh was assassinated, also in a suicide blast, by IS in Mazar-i-Sharif.
The locations of the aforementioned attacks indicate that IS can strike across Afghanistan. The latest atrocity in Badakhshan occurred in an area which is close to Tajikistan, China and Pakistan. The bombing comes as a reminder that left unchecked, IS has the capability to cause major havoc within Afghanistan, as well as to imperil the security of neighbouring states. That is why the Taliban regime must cooperate with regional countries in counterterrorism efforts. This also means that Kabul’s rulers cannot be selective about the militants they choose to fight. For example, the Taliban cannot go after IS and leave the TTP — their ideological comrades — to carry on with their anti-Pakistan activities. Afghanistan’s counterterrorism efforts must target all militants, and regional states should extend their help to Kabul to neutralise the threat.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2023