There are worries among local and Afghan observers that rifts among various Taliban factions stemming from a leadership succession dispute could lead to more defections to the Islamic State group, strengthening its ranks in Afghanistan.
At least nine people were killed and 33 wounded Sunday in a bomb attack at a sports match in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, on the same day that Islamic State fighters launched coordinated attacks on the country’s police forces.
The IS-backed groups “regularly engage” Afghan military forces, but fighting with other parts of the insurgency are rare, except in Nangarhar province where they are battling the Taliban for control of the drug trade. Sartaj stressed that Pakistan’s efforts to persuade the Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks should not, however, be interpreted as indirect endorsement of the current surge of violence in Afghanistan.
Taliban fighters launched a brazen attack on the capital of the northeastern Afghan province of Kunduz on Monday (Sep 28), triggering firefights with police and soldiers in an apparent bid to capture the city.
The security forces managed to push back the militants from Kunduz city however sporadic clashes still continue in two other districts, local officials.
An Afghan interior ministry spokesperson, Sediq Sediqqi, told reporters that all the victims were civilians.
Early reports of ISIS trying to establish an affiliate in Afghanistan were mostly downplayed by the U.S. and other Western powers, who believed the group to be little more than a handful of disaffected Taliban commanders trying to get worldwide attention.
The attack is the first so far by IS loyalists against security forces. The Taliban said they were not behind the attack.
Nicholas Haysom, UN’s envoy to Afghanistan, warned the group had established a “toehold” in Afghanistan.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said it had treated more than 100 wounded people in Kunduz since the assault began, including 36 who were “in critical condition, with severe abdominal and head injuries”.