On Thursday 28th April, nine civilians were killed and 13 injured in explosions on two minibusses in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack, which was targeted at Shia Muslim passengers.
Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, and is home to a significant Hazara minority, who follow the Shiite Muslim tradition. The minibusses were transporting people home for Iftar, the meal to break the dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast, when the explosions took place, within minutes of each other and in different districts.
This attack follows a period of intensified IS violence, and violence targetted at places of worship frequented by Shia Muslims, in Afghanistan.
- On April 19th, six students were killed and 17 people were injured in two IS IED explosions outside a school in Kabul.
- On April 20th, three people were injured in an IS roadside bomb explosion in Kabul; four were killed and 18 injured in an IS bicycle bomb in Kunduz; 12 were killed and 58 injured in an IS bombing of a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif.
- On April 22nd, an IED explosion in a mosque in Kunduz killed at least 33 people and injured at least 43.
Although the Taliban and IS are both Sunni Muslim groups, they have been fighting against each other since 2015, when IS challenged the authority and legitimacy of the Taliban’s founder based on their ideological and cultural differences. The Taliban have a more localised agenda, confined to Afghanistan, but IS militants seek an Islamic caliphate across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of India and Iran. The latter see the Taliban as traitors to the Islamic cause. Since the Taliban take over on August 15th, 2021, IS militants in Afghanistan have perpetrated a string of suicide attacks in attempts to destabilise the new regime.
April has been the deadliest month for civilians in Afghanistan so far in 2022, and the deadliest since October 2021. AOAV has recorded 22 incidents of explosive violence in 2022 so far, of which 59% (13) took place in April. At least 397 civilian casualties have been reported in Afghanistan in English language media in 2022 so far (147 killed and 250 injured), with 81% (322) of them taking place in April.
In total AOAV has recorded 32, 691 civilian casualties of explosive violence in Afghanistan since 2010 (10, 906 killed and 21, 785 injured).
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