IS claims attack on Afghan journalists

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in Afghanistan on Sunday that killed a security guard and injured five journalists and three children in the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif on Saturday. Saturday’s bomb attack was carried out against a demonstration in honor of Afghan journalists, two days after a suicide bomber killed the Taliban governor of Balkh province in an attack also claimed by IS.

This attack was provoked by a “package bomb that the Islamic State fighters managed to place and detonate” during this event organized in a cultural center in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province , the Islamic State group said in a statement published by its propaganda organ, Amaq.

Journalists regularly targeted

A guard guarding the basement building in which the ceremony was held to mark “National Journalists’ Day” was killed, five journalists were injured as well as three children, according to the police.

Afghan journalists were regularly targeted before the Taliban took power in August 2021. Several of these attacks were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. “The explosion targeted a rally organized in a Shiite center to reward several journalists working in agencies involved in the war against the Islamic State,” the statement said.

The Taliban face the security challenge caused by IS

This explosion comes two days after the assassination in the same city of the governor of the province of Balkh, of which Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital. Mohammad Dawood Muzammil was killed on Thursday in a suicide attack in his office by an IS fighter who “rushed towards him, detonating his explosive belt”, IS claimed in a statement published by Amaq. He is one of the most senior Taliban leaders to be assassinated since the latter returned to power in August 2021.

The return to power of the Taliban ended two decades of war against NATO forces and the United States, leading to a significant reduction in violence. But since last year, IS has become the biggest security challenge for the government. Both groups share an austere Sunni Islamist ideology, but IS fights for the establishment of a global “caliphate”, while the Taliban wants to rule an independent Afghanistan.

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