Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ISIS takes responsibility for a major attack on an Afghanistan military hospital that killed at least 30 people.

Wounded patients are transferred to a different hospital. BBC/EPA.

ISIS has taken responsibility for a major attack on an military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing at least 30 people and wounding 50 more. BBC. ISIS fighters, adapting a tactic commonly used by the Taliban, detonated explosives at the main gate and then poured through the hole. They then killed doctors and patients alike with guns and grenades. The attackers were disguised as doctors and were eventually killed by Afghan commandos. The Afghan government has condemned the attack, noting the fact that hospitals are not military targets and are considered safe zones almost everywhere. Though ISIS hasn't had much luck expanding from their mountain bases in the east of the country, they have attempted several headline grabbing attacks in Afghanistan. 

My Comment:
Another disgusting terrorist attack by ISIS. Targeting a hospital is low even for them, even though this isn't the first time a terror attack targeted a hospital in the region. Though hospitals are extremely vulnerable to attacks, even though this one at least had a gate, attacking a place filed with sick and wounded people is pretty horrible. Many of the people targeted in this attack were too weak to even run away. And since this was a military hospital most of the people there were men who were already wounded in battle.  

I do have to say that the tactics ISIS used here were fairly effective. Adapting a Taliban tactic, namely blowing up a gate and then storming through with guns and grenades, worked very well for them. The bombing would also distract any possible defenders and might even kill some people on its own. Once they were in the hospital, the attackers were disguised as doctors. This would make any response more difficult as any attackers would have to worry about shooting the wrong people. Though carrying a rifle and grenades kinda breaks the disguise, it still is a smart move. 

Afghanistan has fallen to the wayside in terms of media coverage. We almost never hear anything from the country except when a terror attack like this happens. It didn't come up much during the presidential campaign and even after the election of Trump, the war there does not get anywhere near the attention the wars in Syria and Iraq have gotten. 

This is a problem because this attack demonstrates how dangerous the situation in Afghanistan is. Ignoring the fact that the Taliban is taking quite a bit of territory, ISIS is taking advantage of the instability in the country to gain territory. Right now they only have a sliver in the eastern mountains and a few other outposts in the country. Nothing like the vast swaths of territory they control in Iraq, Afghanistan and, until recently, Libya, but still, the situation is bad. 

I don't think that Afghanistan will make a good backup base for ISIS after Iraq and/or Syria finally fall. Though ISIS does control territory in the country, it's fairly remote. Afghanistan is an isolated country and is landlocked. It's extremely hard to get to via land or sea and even through the air there are few chances for ISIS fighters to get into the country. I just don't see many ISIS fighters making the very long and dangerous journey from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan. That being said, even if ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria, they will still have followers in Afghanistan to carry out the cause. 

I am surprised that ISIS hasn't attacked a hospital in the Western world. Hospitals are extremely vulnerable in the western world and only rarely have people armed to fight back there. Security is often unarmed or armed with only less then lethal weapons. Plus there are a lot of people there that can't even flee. It's about as good of a target that ISIS can ask for and I wouldn't be surprised if they attempt it... 

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