President Ashraf Ghani’s claim four months ago to have wiped out Islamic State in Afghanistan was shattered Saturday when the militant group struck the capital, Kabul, the country’s deadliest attack in 15 years of war.
More than 80 people were killed and another 231 were wounded when suicide bombers triggered two explosions at a rally by hundreds of ethnic Hazaras on Saturday, according to an e-mailed statement via the Afghanistan Interior Ministry. A third bomber was shot dead by police before detonating an explosive vest.
“The attacks by ISIS reveal how far the group has gone beyond its bases in the eastern region,” Ahmad Saeedi, a former Afghan diplomat in Pakistan, said by phone. “The U.S., Afghanistan and international community must go after them to destroy these new wolves before they destroy us.”
The Islamic State’s ability to carry out deadly attacks complicates prospects for peace in Afghanistan, where Afghan and U.S. forces and their allies have fought Taliban insurgents since 2001. In a rare move, the Taliban joined the government in condemning the attack by Islamic State, a group it considers mostly “well-known robbers and kidnappers” with no connection to Afghanistan.
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