ISIS Affiliate Group Increases Attacks On Religious Minorities In Afghanistan

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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The Islamic State of Khorasan Province, an ISIS affiliate group, has increased attacks on religious minorities in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch announced on Monday.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for several violent attacks and bombings targeting the Shia religious minority that have killed hundreds of people in Afghanistan, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). After a deadly ISKP suicide bombing, ISIS threatened Shia Muslims in their homes and places of worship across the country.

“The ISKP armed group has repeatedly carried out devastating attacks that appear designed to spread terror and inflict maximum suffering particularly on Afghanistan’s Hazara community,” HRW Associate Asia Director Patricia Gossman said in a statement. “The numerous attacks targeting Hazaras amount to crimes against humanity, and those responsible should be brought to justice.”

At least 135 people died in two separate suicide bombings claimed by ISKP targeting mosques on Oct. 15 and Oct. 8, according to HRW. The group also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport where 170 Afghans died on Aug. 29.

ISKP killed 10 humanitarian workers on June 9 and detonated a bomb at a mosque during a Muslim celebration killing more than 10 people on May 14, according to HRW. (RELATED: Twin Blasts Kill At Least 20 At Kabul Athletic Center)

The United Nations implemented sanctions against ISKP in 2019 including travel bans, arms embargoes and asset freezes for the group’s members, according to HRW.

ISKP became a serious threat in 2015 when the group started attacking civilian institutions including schools, hospitals and places of worship, according to HRW. At least 1,500 civilians died and thousands more were injured in the attacks.

The group was less active in 2019 after a military hindrance but picked back up in 2020, according to HRW. ISKP attacks targeted journalists, activists, health workers and religious minorities including Hazaras, Sikhs and Hindus.

“ISKP’s horrific attacks on civilians have not abated since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and appear to be increasing,” Gossman said in a statement. “The Taliban authorities need to urgently adopt measures to protect religious minority communities from attack.”

Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban government promised increased security for religious minorities but committed large-scale murders of the Hazaras in the late 90s and more recently targeted Hazara journalists and communities, according to HRW.

The Taliban overran the Afghan government in mid-August and have struggled to run the country since, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. A majority of Afghan citizens are at severe risk of falling below the poverty line and starvation as the economy continues to decline.

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