After raid on alleged ISKP cell in Herat, ISKP claim setup and warn of retaliation
This is the first time ISKP have directly addressed reports of a Taliban raid.
9 Mar 2023
On March 3, Hasht-e-Subh reported the sound of an explosion and gunfire in Herat city. According to undisclosed sources cited by the outlet, the conflict started around 2200 local time. Chashm News, a small Afghan news platform, shared a video allegedly recorded by a local resident, in which it was possible to hear gunfire in the distance.
RTA Dari, the Afghan state-owned news agency, interviewed the Herat governor spokesperson, Mawlawi Nisar Ahmad Ilyas, regarding the incident. According to his [WARNING: GRAPHIC] statement, the incident was an operation in the Rabat Kabuli area of Herat against members of the Islamic State which resulted in the death of six people and the injury of one Taliban fighter.
Tolo News spoke to the Herat Police spokesperson, Abdullah Insaf, who confirmed that “the security command forces went to the area, and after a quick fight between them, six of the Daesh members who lived in the house were killed”. He added that one of the casualties was a woman, and the property was the house of an unnamed former jihadi commander. As a result of the operation, the special forces allegedly apprehended three Kalashnikov rifles, five pistols, binoculars, and 15 mobile phones.
Various videos and photos shared on social media immediately after the raid confirmed the death of five men and a woman. At least three bodies appeared to have been shot in the head and chest multiple times. AW investigators could not verify the presence of weapons or protective equipment on any of the casualties.
Tolo News shared a [WARNING: GRAPHIC] video of the property the following day. The images seen below show the outside walls covered in bullet holes (left), doors and windows damaged with shattered glass on the inside and vicinity of each entrance (middle), and an unexploded rocket lodged against the wall (right).
Three days after the raid, on March 6, a pro-ISKP private Telegram channel shared an audio and written statement in Pashto entitled “The Taliban: The followers of Pharaoh”. The banner of the document, shown below, contained a photo of one of the alleged ISKP members killed during the raid in Herat on March 3 (top left, censored). On the right were the photos of Mohammad Yaqoob, the Minister of Defence, Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The document claimed the Taliban had created a sham raid by taking ISKP prisoners in their custody to the house and subsequently killing them. They accused the Taliban of committing atrocities “not seen in the past” and performing “raids and operations” which “kill the women and children” connected to the Islamic State.
According to the document, similar sham operations had been carried out by the Taliban in Herat, Nangarhar, Kabul, and other provinces. The ISKP claimed the Taliban had misinterpreted their recent silence and were “intoxicated by this false happiness” and were “intensifying their atrocities”. In the end, the group threatened the Taliban by stating, “we have sent our suicide bombers and trucks full of explosives to all of your peaceful areas, so we can easily reach your homes.”