Security incidents in Afghanistan in 2023

Afghanistan faced some security challenges in 2023 as Daesh continued to threaten the Taliban’s rule. Islamabad accused the Taliban of using Afghanistan’s territory to undermine Pakistan’s security.

United Nations reports indicate that anti-Taliban military fronts, including the Resistance Front, the Afghanistan Freedom Front, and the Afghanistan Freedom Movement, escalated actions against the Taliban. However, the actual number of attacks over the last three months was lower than claimed.

The ISIS Khorasan branch emerged as a significant threat, launching several attacks on civilian targets throughout the year. Notable incidents include:

  • Jan. 11: ISIS attack on the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • March 27: Another attack on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Oct. 13: Bombing at Imam Zaman Mosque in Baghlan.
  • Oct. 26: Attack on Mellat sports club in west Kabul.
  • Nov. 9: Ambush of a passenger car in west Kabul.

The U.N. report also highlights the targeting of Taliban officials by ISIS, including Dawood Muzamal, governor of Balkh; Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi, head of Badakhshan province; and Safiullah Samim, a former commander in Baghlan.

Arif Rahmani, a former government representative, criticized the perceived collusion between ISIS and the Taliban, suggesting a strategy to hinder Afghan civil progress.

The U.N.’s comprehensive report, covering Nov. 14, 2022, to November 2023, recorded 5,524 security incidents, including 40 ISIS attacks and three unidentified events.

A Kabul resident expressed despair over the ongoing violence, particularly its impact on the Hazara community. Another local, Mir Agha, appealed to the Taliban to end the violence, noting the shift from Taliban to ISIS-led attacks.

The report states that 214 civilians were killed and 525 injured during this period, with 65 incidents attributed to Taliban opposition groups.

Despite claims of increased anti-Taliban attacks, the U.N. noted a discrepancy between reported and actual incidents. The Afghanistan Liberation Front claimed 74 attacks, while Ahmad Massoud’s Resistance Front reported nearly 57.

A university professor described the pervasive fear and lack of true security, despite the absence of direct threats when traveling between cities.

Key figures from the Taliban’s opposition, including Akmal Amir and Basir Andrabi from the Afghanistan Liberation Front and Qamaruddin Andrabi from the Resistance Front, were killed in clashes, drawing media attention.

Conflicts included:

  • April 11: A clash in Salang District, Parwan Province, resulting in multiple casualties.
  • Sept. 5: A confrontation between the National Resistance Front and the Taliban.
  • May 9: The death of Ruhollah and two associates.

The Taliban have consistently denied active military opposition and any threat emanating from Afghanistan. However, Pakistan has accused them of colluding with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and using Afghan soil to destabilize Pakistan.