Deadly bomb hits de facto capital of Taliban-governed Afghanistan

Authorities in Afghanistan said Monday that a bomb blast had killed at least one person and injured three others in the southern city of Kandahar, the political headquarters of the country’s hardline Taliban rulers.

The bomb was planted in a handcart on a road leading to the national capital, Kabul, and the victims were civilians, a Kandahar police statement said. It added that an investigation into the attack was underway to apprehend and bring to justice those responsible.

Multiple sources claimed that the bombing had targeted Taliban security forces, and the death toll was significantly higher than what was officially reported.

No group immediately took responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on a regional Islamic State affiliate, known as IS-Khorasan or IS-K, which routinely targets members of the Taliban and the country’s minority Shi’ite community.

Bamiyan attack

The bombing in Kandahar came a day after IS-K said it was behind a gun attack against foreign tourists in the central province of Bamiyan Friday. The shooting resulted in the deaths of three Spanish citizens and three Afghans, with four other tourists from Spain, Australia, Norway, and Lithuania sustaining injuries.

Bamiyan is a popular designation for foreign tourists because it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and the remains of two giant Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban during their previous rule in 2001.

Militant attacks are extremely rare in Kandahar, where the reclusive Taliban supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, lives and effectively governs Afghanistan from there through religious edicts stemming from his strict interpretation of Islam.

The most recent IS-K-claimed bombing in the city, known as the historical birthplace of the Taliban, occurred in late March when a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of government employees collecting salaries outside a bank, killing at least three of them.

The Taliban stormed back to power in Kabul in 2021 when the United States and NATO troops withdrew from the country after nearly 20 years of involvement in the Afghan war.

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