Taliban raid hideout in Kart-e-Naw, Kabul, amid fears of pending attack
This was the second raid on an alleged ISKP hideout in Kabul in 2023 - and comes at a time when several embassies and international organisations have suspended operations or evacuated staff over concerns of a large-scale attack.
16 Feb 2023
On February 13, several social media accounts reported explosions and gunfire in the Kart-e-Naw area (PD8) of Kabul city. The Kabul police spokesperson, Khalid Zadran, and the spokesperson for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, released a statement regarding the incident. Both claimed that an undisclosed number of ISKP members were killed as a result of an operation on their hideout in PD8, adding that among this “important group of Kharijites” were “foreign nationals” who were “involved in the recent attacks in Kabul”.
On February 14, the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) released a video of the raid of the alleged ISKP house. The footage contained various aerial views of the area as the GDI forces approached the residence prior to the special operation. Tolo News also published a video showing the damage to the residence after the raid.
That footage, coupled with the video of the raid released by the GDI, allowed AW investigators to geolocate the property in an upmarket area of Kart-e-Naw, PD8, near Police Station 4, as seen below.
The video shared by the GDI shows Taliban forces actively firing on the alleged ISKP hideout, and there is no visible return fire. Towards the end of the confrontation, the Taliban throw an explosive device into the building, collapsing the entire front section, as seen in the sequence of events below.
According to the GDI’s statement, the special operation resulted in the killing of three alleged ISKP members and the capture of one other. Various pro-Taliban social media accounts shared similar claims with the photo of the captured alleged ISKP member. In addition to sharing photos of the captured man, various pro-Taliban accounts were also observed using the “#خوارج_ووژنئ” hashtag, which translates to “Kill the Khawarij”.
AW investigators verified the presence of four bodies at the scene. AW found no evidence of the deceased being associated with ISKP, and no weapons were visible.
A pro-Taliban Twitter account with 15.5k followers shared photos of the bodies of the alleged ISKP members after the raid in Kabul’s PD8. They appear to be in a similar condition as previously seen in Kabul raids, covered in debris due to the force of the attack and with various gunshot wounds to the body.
A Twitter user shared a photo of a male victim from the raid, identifying him as Abu Muawiya al-Shishani, who the account says “came from Syria three months ago and said that his only wish is to be martyred in a face-to-face battle with the Taliban.” The nom de guerre of ‘Al-Shishani’ means ‘from Chechyna’, although the angle of the image makes it difficult to confirm whether he is Chechen in appearance. AW investigators were not able to verify the identity of any of the victims or their possible allegiance to the ISKP.
The Afghanistan Liberation Movement, a resistance group allegedly comprised of ex-government security forces, shared an audio message from a Taliban WhatsApp group alongside the photo of the captured male. In the recording, a male voice says: “...Here in PD8 of Kabul, some Daesh members are surrounded. One was captured alive, and another one detonated himself…Some were captured alive, and I hereby send you the picture of one of the arrested Daesh members.”
AW investigators confirmed that one of the deceased has injuries consistent with an explosion at close range.
This raid was the second on an alleged ISKP hideout in Kabul in 2023. On January 4, 2023, the Taliban spokesperson reported a similar special operation in PD8. Numerous photos showed various dead bodies of the alleged ISKP members. One of the bodies appeared to have been a minor. Three of the victims were identified by Taliban members on the scene as Uzbek; however, there was no evidence of association with the ISKP.
In both raids, the Taliban spokesperson claimed that the groups had been behind large recent attacks against civilians in Kabul, some of which targeted foreign nationals. The latest raid comes at a time when several Embassies and international organisations have suspended operations or evacuated staff over concerns of a large-scale ISKP attack.