ISIS claimed responsibility for twin suicide blasts that killed at least 80 and wounded 230 Shi'ite Hazaras who were gathered in Kabul for a protest demonstration July 23—the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001. The attack represents a major escalation for ISIS in Afghanistan, which so has largely been largely confined to the eastern province of Nangarhar. The attakc was claimed in a short statement posted by Amaq Agency, the ISIS media arm. The Taliban issued a statement rejeccting the attack, saying it was aimed at sowing divisions among Afghanistan's communitie. The Talibam waged a campaign of genocide against the Hazaras during their time in power in the 1990s.
The targeted demonstration was called to oppose the re-routing of the TUTAP power line, which would deliver electricity to Afghanistan from the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It was originally slated to pass through the Hazara's remote and mountainous central province of Bamiyan. But the government re-routed it through the Salang pass north of Kabul, saying the shorter route would speed the project and save millions of dollars. Hazara leaders lashed out at the Pashtun-dominated, calling the decision prejudiced against their people. (AFP, WP, Khaama Press, KP, KP)
ISIS leader in Afghanistan reported killed in drone strike
Hafiz Saeed Khan, leader of ISIS in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is reported to have been killed in a US drone strike last month. Last year, the Afghan intelligence agency said it believed Saeed Khan had died in a drone attack in Nangarhar. However, IS insisted its leader had survived that attack. On Aug. 12, the US said he had been killed in a new drone attack in Nangarhar's Achin district on July 26. (BBC News)