Saturday, July 23, 2016

Suicide bombers kill at least 61 people at a rally in Afghanistan.

Members of Afghanistan's Hazara minority protest before being hit with the bombings. Reuters. 

Suicide bombers have killed at least 61 people and wounded scores more at a protest rally in Kabul, Afghanistan. Reuters. Members of Afghanistan's Hazara minority, a Shiite Muslim group, were protesting about the route of a power line when the bombing occurred. It is unclear how many people were involved in the attack and how many bombers there were. The protest was putting pressure onto the Afghan government. 

The BBC reports that ISIS has taken responsibility for the attack. Their Amaq news agency said that two of their fighters detonated suicide belts and specifically targeted the Hazara's because they are Shiite Muslims. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and even went as far as to condemn it. 

My Comment:
Another huge attack by ISIS and I expect the death toll to rise again. The original Reuters article said that only 29 people but they and other news agencies confirmed that at least 61 had died. Though Afghanistan is no stranger to suicide bombings, this is bad even for that unfortunate country. As always with these attacks, the numbers go up as people respond and as further people die during medical treatment. Given how horrible the pictures I have seen on social media are, I expect that 61 won't be the final death toll... 

We haven't heard much from ISIS in Afghanistan lately. Largely because the US targeted their fighters with airstrikes and killed many of their leaders. For once we targeted ISIS before they became established. The do hold some parts of Afghanistan but not anything compared to what they hold in Syria or Iraq. 

Though we may have prevented ISIS from taking and holding large parts of Afghanistan, the terror network is still active in the country. They have carried out several attacks like this and this is just the latest and a bit worse then most. Given how lawless and chaotic Afghanistan is right now, it is no surprise that ISIS has found a place to operate. ISIS thrives on instability and with the war between the Taliban and Afghani government growing bloodier by the day, the terrorists have an opportunity to pull of these kinds of attacks. 

Of course, it is possible that ISIS really isn't responsible for this attack and is merely taking credit for it. Both the Taliban and al-Qaeda are active in Afghanistan as well, but neither of them have taken credit for the attack. Amazingly enough the Taliban condemned the attack. I am not sure why. I never pictured the Taliban of being supportive of Shiite Muslims since they have practically committed genocide against them in the past. Who knows what they are thinking there?

This seems like another ISIS attempt to stir up discontent between Sunni and Shiite factions. That has been their playbook for years, even before when they were called al-Qaeda in Iraq. Not only do they want to eliminate Shiite Muslims, they are hoping for reprisal attacks from Shiites that will force Sunni Muslims into their arms. It is a tactic that has worked before and I could see it working again. We shall see if it works in Afghanistan as well as it worked in Iraq.

I don't really understand what the Hazara's were protesting for. I can see protesting because they are a persecuted minority and because the government doesn't pay enough attention to them, but the reason both articles gave was because of a power line. Though that power line could provide jobs for people and power for others, that just doesn't seem like a good enough reason to protest for me. My guess is that they don't think the Afghan government represents them, which is probably fair. 

I do have to say that if I was anywhere near where ISIS was active, I would not be participating in one of these large public gatherings. We have seen ISIS attack both protests and celebrations on many different occasions. ISIS loves it when people are grouped up this close. It allows their suicide bombers to do much more damage then they would if people were more spread out. It's practically a perfect target for them. Expect more of these attacks in the future. 

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