Two Afghan mosques have been targeted in a recent attack, killing over 60 individuals and injuring almost 90 others during their Friday prayers. A Shiite mosque in Kabul and a Sunni mosque in the western Ghor province were shelled by two suicide bombers. The Islamic State of Khorason Province (ISKP), the regional sub-body of the Islamic State (IS), has since claimed responsibility for the two attacks, having previously attacked Shia mosques in Afghanistan. The twin bombings come after a particularly deadly week in Afghanistan, with two separate incidents occurring earlier in the week.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning both attacks and recounted the new measures that country’s security forces would implement to “eliminate the terrorists who target Afghans of all religions and tribes.”
The 2017 United Nations report on civilian fatalities in Afghanistan reveals that this year has produced the most losses since the report initiated in 2007. In the same report, the UN reported a 52% increase in civilian casualties from Afghan and U.S. airstrikes, resulting in 205 deaths and 261 injuries.
The significant loss incurred by the attacks is a tragic ending to a violent week in Afghanistan. The Taliban has been responsible for wreaking havoc on Afghan soil since its occupation in 1996. It is evident that the Afghan government and the U.S. need to increase their response and pre-emptive actions to protect civilians from terrorist attacks, as well as airstrikes carried out by both state bodies. However, the U.S. has not listed the Afghan Taliban as a “Foreign Terror Group,” undermining the substantial losses induced by their attacks.
The new attacks bring the number of people killed in bomb attacks across the nation this week to at least 176. The twin mosque bombings were preceded by two prior incidents. Starting Tuesday October 17, the Taliban commenced a string of attacks across Afghanistan, targeting police operation units and government administrations with designated suicide bombers, resulting in the deaths of over 70 individuals. The following day, over 55 security personnel were killed, in which one assault came close to obliterating an army camp in southern Kandahar province. Further, the Taliban have affirmed their role in the earlier assaults this week that struck on security apparatuses in the east and west of the country. The battle against Taliban forces is ongoing in Afghanistan even though long-term ally U.S. and NATO members have officially terminated their respective operations at the end of 2014, shifting their involvement to a provisional and counterterrorism advisory role.
The heartbreaking toll from the attacks demonstrates a dire need for reform and restoration in Afghanistan. The attacks in mosques on innocent civilians during their religious practices are a devastating revelation regarding religious freedoms in Afghanistan, much like that in many Middle Eastern counterparts. Insurgent groups such as the Taliban and the Islamic State have surpassed their reign, and further measures by states and international bodies should be implemented to eliminate them. Attacks like these indicate their role as the biggest hindrance to global peace and international security.
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