A suicide bomber targeted the Interior Ministry of Afghanistan headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, killing four employees and marking the latest act of violence against the country’s Taliban-led government since its conquest of Afghanistan in August 2021.
The explosion occurred during an afternoon prayer break when most workers were gathered at a mosque within the building. Abdul Nafi Takor, a spokesman for the Taliban-led government, claimed that “[at] about 1:30 pm [local time], there was an explosion in a sub mosque at the Ministry of Interior, [and] as a result four worshippers were martyred and twenty-five others were wounded.”
“The incident is under investigation,” Takor continued. “We will share the details with the media when it is done.”
An Italian hospital in Kabul reported on Wednesday that it had treated casualties in the aftermath of the attack. Emergency, the Italian aid organization that runs the hospital, wrote on Twitter that it had received twenty patients from the attack, including two who died before they arrived. The statement claimed that surviving victims had reported seeing a man detonate a device during the prayer service.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, many observers have speculated that it was carried out by the Islamic State’s “Khorasan Province,” or ISIS-K. The group, ISIS’s local affiliate branch, fought against the Taliban before its conquest, regarding it as insufficiently Islamic and not sufficiently dedicated to spreading its religious vision beyond Afghanistan’s borders. Following the Taliban victory in Afghanistan’s twenty-year war, ISIS-K has carried out a series of high-profile terrorist attacks, undermining the new government’s pledge to maintain security and ensure public order.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry is responsible for internal security and is the parent organization of the national police force, fulfilling a similar role to the Justice Department in the United States. It is unclear how the suicide bomber entered the building, as the ministry’s headquarters is located in a fortified compound near the Kabul International Airport.
Because of the difficulty of directly striking Taliban government institutions, most of ISIS-K’s attacks have been aimed at softer targets, particularly schools and community institutions belonging to the Hazara, an ethnoreligious group within Afghanistan that practices Shi’a Islam and is regarded as a heretical sect by ISIS-K. The attack on the interior ministry comes less than a week after a suicide attack on a Hazara school in Kabul, killing fifty-three people—the overwhelming majority of them young girls preparing for a college entrance examination. The attack, and the Taliban’s failure to prevent it, led to street protests within Afghanistan, an international outcry, and accusations of attempted genocide.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.