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Armed Resistance to the Taliban

Presently three groups are offering armed resistance to Taliban rule in Afghanistan. While two groups have a political objective of replacing the ultra-conservative Islamic regime and return to the Republic, the third is a global terrorist affiliate Islamic State’s Afghan arm known as Islamic State of Khorasan.

Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF) is one of the two groups that is striving for a return to the Republic. The second is National Resistance Front led by Ahmad Masood. The AFF as well as the National Resistance Front claim attacks in the country from time to time essentially in provinces such as Parwan and Baghlan.  The AFF claims that forces have carried out 12 attacks on Taliban positions in the past month [October – November 2023], resulting in the death and injury of over 50 Taliban members. The NRF is also recently active. The NRF and the AFF direct attacks mainly at the Taliban and could be thus grouped as insurgents. There is no external support that is known so far to these groups however they are likely to have sanctuaries in Tajikistan with ethnic affinity as the NRF and AFF is mainly comprised of Tajiks of Afghanistan.

In terms of violence the ISIS K is the main threat faced by the Taliban. Till May this year, the ISIS K have claimed to 283 attacks in Afghanistan since Taliban taking over in August 2021, killing at least 670 people and injuring 1,200. The ISIS K’s aim is millenarian terror.

These figures cannot be verified as the Taliban does not acknowledge smaller attacks and only when many people are targeted in one is the regime in Kabul confirming the same. ISIS-K’s recent attacks have largely been aimed at the Taliban and other symbolic targets, as well as at Afghanistan’s Shia Muslim minorities, in particular the ethnic Hazaras. Seven people died, and 20 others were injured in a bus explosion in the Afghan capital in the Dashti Barchi area of Kabul which has been targeted recently by the group.

During the year the ISIS K has launched several terrorist attacks in the country. On October 13, over seven were killed and around 40 injuredv in a blast on a Shiite Mosque during Friday prayers in the Pol-e-Khomri – the provincial capital of Baghlan. In August, an explosion in a hotel in Khost province killed three people and injured seven others. The hotel is frequented by Afghans and Pakistani refugees from North Waziristan. The ISK is mainly based in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province and  also operates across the border in Pakistan.

Overall these insurgent and terrorist groups do not pose a significant challenge to the Taliban but as they gather some mass, it remains to be seen whether they can pose a threat to the regime in Kabul.

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