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happening in afghanistan

Islamic State claims responsibility for string of deadly attacks across Afghanistan

In the last two weeks, the Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for four major terrorist attacks in the country, raising concerns that this is the beginning of a new, violent battle between ISIS and the Taliban.

The attacks included the bombings of a high school in Kabul and mosques in northern Afghanistan, targeting Shiite and Sufi Muslims, with data from hospitals suggesting at least 100 people were killed, The New York Times reports.

The affiliate, known as Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K, was formed in 2015 by disillusioned Pakistani Taliban fighters. ISIS-K considers Shiite and Sufi Muslims to be heretics, and does not believe the Taliban is strict enough. Prior to the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan last August, most ISIS-K militants were in eastern Afghanistan, and several leaders were killed during U.S. airstrikes and Afghan commando raids.

Once the Taliban began emptying prisons in Afghanistan, ISIS-K saw its ranks bolstered, the United Nations Mission to Afghanistan said, with the number of fighters doubling. Today, there are ISIS-K members in almost every one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, and they carried out dozens of attacks in late 2021 across the country, killing nearly 100 Taliban fighters.

The Taliban has claimed ISIS-K poses no threat to the security of Afghanistan, but Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center think tank, told the Times the affiliate is "resilient. It survived years of airstrikes from NATO forces and ground operations from the Taliban during its insurgency. Now after the Taliban takeover and the U.S. departure, ISIS-K has emerged even stronger." Read more at The New York Times.