Taliban claim raid on ISKP cell in Kabul
Residents and opposition campaigners claimed the operation targeted Panjshiris and Tajiks collaborating with the NRF, arguing the Taliban was using ISKP as a cover for their actions.
On the evening of November 12, 2022, at around 23:00 local time, reports surfaced on social media of explosions and gunfire in the Khairkhane area of Kabul lasting for several hours. According to reports from media, residents claimed that Taliban armed forces blocked roads and climbed on roofs of nearby residences in a clash that lasted for several hours. Abdul Nafee Takour, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s Ministry of Interior, referred to the incident as a “cleaning operation”.
On November 13, 2022, Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the Islamic Emirate, issued a statement, claiming Taliban special forces had carried out an operation on an alleged ISKP hideout in Police District 15 of Kabul. Mujahid added that, as a result, five ISKP members were killed and “a number of weapons, hand grenades, remotes, and explosives have been recovered from the hideout.”
On November 13, 2022, the General Directorate of Intelligence's Twitter account published a [WARNING: GRAPHIC] video of the special operation. The footage corroborated the previous claims of gunfire and explosions, although it was not possible to geolocate the target due to the night-time footage.
AW investigators analysed various [WARNING: GRAPHIC] footage and photos featuring the bodies of the alleged ISKP members. There is no evidence in the content that the group was armed or wearing protective clothing at the time of their death, however, it is possible to identify five different bodies.
Although the Taliban claimed the target of the security operation was an ISKP hideout, various social media users claimed the Taliban had launched the operation to “arrest members of the Resistance Front under the name of ISIS in Khairkhane”. Natiq Malikzada, an Afghan journalist, noted that “the ISKP has become a good excuse for the Taliban to hide their crimes”. Malikzada added that the Panjsad area in Khairkhane is mainly inhabited by people from Panjshir and Tajiks and, according to the Independent Persian, known to have people affiliated with the NRF.
Amu, a relatively new North American-based platform focused on Afghanistan, contacted several local sources who said the men killed by the Taliban forces were resistance collaborators from Panjshir, not members of the ISKP. Another local resident cited by RFI Farsi, a French news agency, made similar claims.
AW has covered two other operations allegedly against ISKP cells in Kabul within the last five months. On July 6, 2022, Zabihullah Mujahid reported an operation on an alleged ISKP hideout in the 315 neighbourhood of the Khairkhane area, Police District 11. As a result, at least three people were killed. AW investigators analysed the incident and concluded that the evidence pointed towards an attack by unknown forces against a Taliban checkpoint in the area and subsequent retaliation by the Taliban. AW investigators found no verifiable connection to an ISKP cell at the time.
On October 21, 2022, Zabihullah Mujahid reported a similar operation on an alleged ISKP hideout in Kabul, Police District 8. AW investigators analysed the incident and confirmed the presence of four male bodies. Although it is not possible to confirm whether the men were part of ISKP, at least two of them were wearing a tactical vest at the time of their death, suggesting they were prepared for combat.
14 Nov 2022