On November 2, the Islamic State’s Khurasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for an attack on a major hospital in Kabul. The attack killed dozens of people, including the commander of the Taliban’s Badri Brigades (special forces) who also happens to be a senior Haqqani Network commander.
This comes amid nearly daily ISKP attacks in Afghanistan—most of which target the Taliban—and a few weeks after ISKP committed another mass-casualty attack against the country’s Shia minority, highlighting the Taliban’s inability to provide the security they promised Afghans, including to their own members. Furthermore, the Taliban’s ongoing campaign against the country’s Salafist communities risks further exacerbating sectarian tensions and boosting recruitment for ISKP, whose members—unlike the majority of Afghanistan’s population—are Salafists.
The convergence of these factors points to a likely escalation in violence in the short to medium term, as the Taliban seeks to dismantle a group intent on challenging its promise to Afghans and the international community: deliver security and deny terrorist groups the ability to operate in the country.