Taliban raid suspected IS hideout after bombing in capital

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Taliban fighters walk at the entrance of the Eidgah Mosque after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. A bomb exploded in the entrance of the mosque in the Afghan capital on Sunday leaving a “number of civilians dead,” a Taliban spokesman said. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban forces raided an Islamic State affiliate’s hideout in the Afghan capital and killed several insurgents, hours after a deadly bombing outside a mosque in Kabul, the Taliban said Monday.

Sunday’s bombing outside the Eid Gah mosque killed five civilians, and while no claim of responsibility was made, suspicion quickly fell on the Islamic State group, which has ramped up attacks against its Taliban enemy since their takeover of Kabul in mid-August.

Taliban officials had gathered at the mosque to mourn the passing of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid’s mother.

In a statement Monday, Mujahid said Taliban forces raided an Islamic State operations center in the northern Kabul neighborhood of Khair Khana. It did not say how many IS insurgents killed or whether any Taliban were injured in the operation.

Sunday’s bombing was the deadliest attack since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan with the chaotic departure of the last U.S. troops on Aug. 31.

The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the horrific bombing on Aug. 26 that killed more than 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel outside the Kabul airport, where thousands of people were trying to reach the airport to escape Taliban rule.

The Islamic State reemerged in Afghanistan in 2020 after being weakened by a heavy U.S. bombing campaign directed against them in the eastern part of the country in 2019. They were blamed for a horrific attack in 2020 on a maternity hospital that killed 24 people, including newborn babies. Earlier this year, they were held responsible for a brutal attack on a school in Afghanistan’s mostly Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi that killed more than 80 students.

Sunday’s bombing underscores the growing challenges for the Taliban. The group carried out frequent attacks during their 20-year insurgency, but are now faced with trying to contain rival militants who have used the same methods. And they are doing so during a national economic meltdown without the massive foreign aid given to U.S.-backed government they toppled.

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