Weekly brief covering Mar. 19 – 25


Last week witnessed an escalation of attacks against the Taliban by anti-Taliban forces. Freedom Front of Afghanistan, a new armed opposition group, staged a heavy attack on a checkpoint on Baghlan’s outskirts, killing at least a Taliban soldier and critically wounding three more. Another heavy artillery attack was carried out on Taliban police headquarters in Parwan’s Bagram district near Kabul. There was a fierce clash in Kapisa province after FFA forces attacked the Taliban’s district headquarters. Fighting also broke out in Kapisa after an ambush on a Taliban checkpoint. At least three Taliban members were killed in an attack on their police base in Takhar. In far northern Sar Pul province, FFA forces stormed a Taliban checkpoint and fought hours of battle in which at least two Taliban soldiers were critically wounded. Meanwhile, an NRF gunman killed a Taliban member in Takhar. Elsewhere in Herat, an assailant threw a grenade at a Taliban checkpoint, followed by heavy gunfire.

In Panjshir, armed clashes reportedly took place as well after NRF attacked a Taliban base. Political differences between Taliban also ratcheted up in that province after they fired Panjshir’s security chief Hamid Khorasani after he strongly criticized them. They also fired another military commander and began a manhunt for him after he defected. Similarly, the Taliban fired an ethnic Uzbek commander in Takhar, where a meeting among top Uzbek Taliban commanders reportedly took place.

IS-K attacks gained momentum in eastern and southern Afghanistan. IS-K militants gunned down the brother of a notorious Taliban leader in Zabul and carried out a bomb attack on an army base in Zabul, killing four Taliban soldiers.

In Kandahar, unknown assailants gunned down a former soldier. A woman was also found murdered on Kandahar’s outskirts, where people also found the decapitated body of a man. Taliban also tortured at least six youths there for listening to local music. In border areas of Kandahar, the Taliban also caught a truck loaded with weapons being smuggled to Pakistan.

Violence against civilians also persisted across Afghanistan. Taliban gunmen shot dead two former local commanders in front of their house in Helmand. Taliban arrested three young men in Baghlan for playing cards and punished them in front of a crowd. They also brutally beat shopkeepers in Spin Boldak of Kandahar and even fired shots at the shops that did not have the Taliban’s white flag in front of their shops. Taliban also arrested ten civilians, mostly coal miners, in Baghlan over alleged links to NRF. In a reprisal move, they have shut down 20 non-governmental aid agencies in Ghor province. A former NDS official has also been missing since last week in Kunduz. In a raid on a private university graduation ceremony in Mazar Sharif city, the Taliban sent one of their mullahs to speak uninvited on the podium.

Taliban’s radical agendas took a more hardline turn after they barred all girls above sixth grade from attending secondary and high schools across Afghanistan. That prompted hundreds of female students in several schools in Kabul city to stage protests.

Among a few demonstrations held this past week was an instance of a group of women rallying in western Kabul against restrictions imposed by the Taliban on media, demanding the administration stop censoring and purging media outlets.