Bombings in Afghanistan’s ISIS-K heartland kill two and injure up to 20 people

Bomb explodes AfghanistanThe ISIS-K heart has killed two and injured another 20 in the first fatal attack since the United States and Britain withdrew last month.

Three explosions shook the eastern provincial capital of Jalalabad on Saturday in attacks targeting Taliban vehicle.

There was no immediate liability claim, however Islamic State militants, headquartered in the area, are enemies of the Taliban.

Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K claimed last month’s bombing of Kabul airport that killed more than 170 people, including 13 US Marines.

Three injured in the blast were civilians and 16 were Taliban fighters, some of whom are in critical condition.

On Saturday, a sticky bomb also exploded in the capital Kabul and two were injured. The target of the bomb was not immediately clear.

The Taliban are facing major economic and security problems as they try to govern, and a growing challenge from the IS insurgency would further stretch their resources.

Bomb blasts in Afghanistan's ISIS-K heart have killed two and injured another 20 in the first deadly attack since the United States and Britain withdrew last month

Bomb blasts in Afghanistan’s ISIS-K heart have killed two and injured another 20 in the first deadly attack since the United States and Britain withdrew last month

Three explosions shook the eastern provincial capital of Jalalabad on Saturday in attacks on Taliban vehicles, although most of the victims were civilians according to local media (pictured, Nangarhar Regional Specialization Hospital where the victims are being treated)

Three explosions shook the eastern provincial capital of Jalalabad on Saturday in attacks on Taliban vehicles, although most of the victims were civilians according to local media (pictured, Nangarhar Regional Specialization Hospital where the victims are being treated)

In Kabul, a new sign stood outside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs announcing that it was now ‘the Ministry of Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vices’.

Staff at the World Bank’s $ 100 million women’s economic empowerment and rural development program, which ended at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, were escorted from the scene on Saturday, said program member Sharif Akhtar, who was among those removed.

Mabouba Suraj, who heads the Afghan women’s network, said she was surprised by the amount of orders placed by the Taliban-led government restricting women and girls.

The works in the Afghan capital covered the Ministry of Women's signs of compensation in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, with the text 'Prayers and guidance and promotion of virtue and prevention of vice'.

The works in the Afghan capital covered the Ministry of Women’s signs of compensation in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, with the text ‘Prayers and guidance and promotion of virtue and prevention of vice’.

At the same time, the Taliban-led Ministry of Education asked boys from grades 7-12 to return to school on Saturday with their male teachers, but it was not mentioned that girls in those grades returned to school.

Earlier, the Taliban’s higher education minister had said that girls should be given equal access to education, albeit in gender segregated backgrounds.

‘It’s starting to get really, really hard. … Is this the scene where the girls will be forgotten? ‘Sa Suraj. ‘I know they do not believe in giving explanations, but explanations are very important.’

Suraj speculated that the contradictory statements might reflect divisions within the Taliban as they try to consolidate their power, with the more pragmatic within the movement losing to hard-liners among them, at least for the time being.

Taliban statements often reflect a desire to engage with the world, open up public spaces for women and girls, and protect Afghanistan’s minorities. But orders for its ranking on the ground are contradictory. Instead, restrictions, especially for women, have been introduced.

Suraj, an Afghan American who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 to promote women’s rights and education, said many of her activists had left the country.

She said she remained in an attempt to engage with the Taliban and find a middle ground, but so far has not been able to get the Taliban leadership to meet with activists who have remained in the country to talk to women about the way forward.

‘We have to talk. We have to find a middle ground, she said.

Girls were excluded from returning to high school in Afghanistan on Saturday, after the country's new Taliban ruler only ordered boys and male teachers back to the classroom

Girls were excluded from returning to high school in Afghanistan on Saturday, after the country’s new Taliban ruler only ordered boys and male teachers back to the classroom

“All male teachers and students should go to their educational institutions,” said a statement ahead of lessons resumed on Saturday. The statement, which was issued late on Friday, did not mention female teachers or girls’ students

On Saturday, an international flight from Pakistan’s national airline left Kabul airport with 322 passengers on board and a flight by Iran’s Mahan Air departed with 187 passengers on board, an airport official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said that the two flights departed on Saturday morning. The identities and nationalities on board were not immediately known.

The international flights were the last to depart from Kabul in the past week as technical teams from Qatar and Turkey have been working to bring the airport up to the standard of international commercial aircraft.

A Qatar Airways flight on Friday took more Americans out of Afghanistan, according to Washington’s peace envoy, the third such lift from the Mideast carrier since the Taliban takeover and the frantic American troop withdrawal from the country.

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