Militants Conduct Two Major Terrorist Attacks

May 13, 2020

On 12 May 2020, militants in Afghanistan conducted two major terrorist attacks in the country, including one in the capital Kabul, and another in Nangahar province. In western Kabul, at approximately 1000 local time (0530 UTC) three armed assailants dressed as police officers attacked a hospital operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood. The attackers reportedly stormed the facility and detonated at least two grenades before engaging in a gunbattle with security forces, which lasted several hours and ended with the deaths of all three attackers. Reports indicate that the attackers targeted the hospital’s maternity ward, killing at least 16 people, and injuring 16 more. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Later the same day, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral ceremony in the Khewa district of Nangarhar province. The assailant reportedly detonated several explosives during the ceremony, at which government officials and a member of parliament were present. Local reports indicate that at least 26 people were killed and 68 others were injured in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Analyst Comment: The Islamic State frequently conducts attacks in the capital Kabul, often targeting civilians and foreign nationals. In addition, the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood — which is home to a large Shiite community — has also been a focal point for several attacks in recent years. Preliminary reports indicate that the initial target of the attack was a guesthouse behind the hospital building that houses foreign staff. Communal gatherings, such as funerals and weddings, are frequent targets for terrorist attacks as they tend to attract large numbers of people, and often include local politicians and/or tribal leaders.

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