The Taliban coordinated two simultaneous attacks on Monday, resulting in the deaths of 14 Afghani troops and police officers. Both attacks occurred across the Badghis province, in the northwestern part of the country near the border of Turkmenistan. The first attack happened in the Ab Kamari District to the west, where nine soldiers were killed. Almost immediately afterwards, there was an attack in the Qadis District to the east, resulting in the deaths of five Afghani police officers.
Though initially no one claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Deputy provincial police chief Ghulam Sarwar Haidari pointed the finger at the Taliban. Since then, the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has said that the Taliban were indeed responsible.
This comes just after the recent suicide bombing that took the lives of 57 people in Kabul. ISIS carried out the Sunday attack, killing civilians who were lining up to register to vote. At least five of the victims were children and 21 of them women.
Both ISIS and the Taliban have been aggressively pursuing military and civilian targets in recent months. In January, they both conducted a number of attacks that made the headlines — the Taliban killed 103 people and wounded 235 in an explosion from a car bomb hidden in an ambulance; they also killed 18 in a hotel siege a week earlier. ISIS killed 20 in a suicide bombing in Kabul in early January. On Jan. 24, ISIS attacked a Save the Children compound in Jalalabad, killing six and wounding 27.
However, these are not coordinated efforts between the two groups. When ISIS began operating in Afghanistan, the Taliban conducted a major, effective offensive against them and ISIS-K sustained significant losses. While ISIS-K poses a real threat, the Taliban is much larger and much more powerful by comparison. ISIS has smaller numbers, and are up against not only the Taliban, but the U.S. and Afghan forces as well (not to mention other partner NATO states). However, when it comes to the relationships between groups like the Taliban and ISIS (and ISIS-K and other ISIS groups), not all of the information is readily available.
The Taliban’s strongest ground lies to the south, along the border of Pakistan and leading to Iran. Their power extends up along the east with the Pakistani border, but they also control some areas to the north, like several districts in the Badghis province. The Taliban control just under half of Afghanistan, though it is difficult to discern the extent of their power in some areas.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.