Gunmen free more than 1,800 inmates in attack on Nigerian prison


Burnt vehicles are seen outside the Nigeria police force Imo state command headquaters after gunmen attacked and set properties ablaze in Imo State
Burnt vehicles are seen outside the Nigeria police force Imo state command headquaters after gunmen attacked and set properties ablaze in Imo State, Nigeria April 5, 2021. Picture taken April 5, 2021. David Dosunmu/Handout via REUTERS

April 6, 2021

By Tife Owolabi

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – More than 1,800 prisoners are on the run in southeast Nigeria after escaping when heavily armed gunmen attacked their prison using explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, the authorities said.

Nigerian police said it believed a banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was behind the attack in the city of Owerri, but a spokesman for the group denied involvement.

The secessionist movement in the southeast is one of several serious security challenges facing President Muhammadu Buhari, including a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, a spate of school kidnappings in the northwest and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Buhari said the attack, in a city near the oil-rich Niger Delta region that is the mainstay of Africa’s top crude exporter and biggest economy, was an “act of terrorism”. He ordered security forces to apprehend the fleeing prisoners.

The attackers stormed the facility at around 2:15 a.m. (0115 GMT) on Monday, according to the Nigerian Correctional Service said.

“The Owerri Custodial Centre in Imo state has been attacked by unknown gunmen and forcefully released a total of 1,844 inmates in custody,” its spokesman said in a statement late on Monday.

The police said attackers used explosives to blast the administrative block of the prison and entered the prison yard.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attackers… are members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB),” said Frank Mba, a spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force.

IPOB wants independence for a region in southeast Nigeria it calls Biafra. One million people died in a 1967-70 civil war between the Nigerian government and secessionists there.

In recent months security in the region has deteriorated. Several police stations have been attacked since January, with large amounts of ammunition stolen and reports of the IPOB’s paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), clashing with the military.

But an IPOB spokesman told Reuters the group did not carry out the prison raid.

“IPOB and ESN were not involved in the attack in Owerri, Imo state. It is not our mandate to attack security personnel or prison facilities,” the IPOB spokesman said in a phone call.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa and Anamesere Igboeroteonwu in Onitsha; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Tom Hogue and Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Gunmen kidnap more than 300 girls in raid on northwest Nigerian school


An operation to rescue more than 300 girls kidnapped in Nigeria had failed to pinpoint their location by late on Friday, almost 24 hours after gunmen seized them in a raid on their school.

The raid in Zamfara state, where the governor ordered all boarding schools to close immediately, was the second such kidnapping in little over a week in the country’s northwest, a region increasingly targeted by militants and criminal gangs.

Zamfara police said they had begun search-and-rescue operations with the army to find the “bandits” who took the 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe.

“There’s information that they were moved to a neighbouring forest, and we are tracking and exercising caution,” Zamfara police commissioner Abutu Yaro told a news conference.

All the abductees remained at large, but the parent of one of them, Mohammed Usman Jangebe, said seven of their schoolmates had resurfaced after escaping the raiders by hiding in gutters.

The assailants stormed in at around 1 am, firing sporadically, said Zamfara’s information commissioner, Sulaiman Tanau Anka.

“Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students. They also moved some on foot,” he told Reuters.

By late Friday, there had been no claim of responsibility for the raid.

School kidnappings were first carried out by jihadist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province but the tactic has now been adopted by other militants whose agenda is unclear.

They have become endemic around the increasingly lawless north, to the anguish of families and frustration of Nigeria’s government and armed forces. Friday’s was the third such incident since December.

An empty classroom of the Government Science College where gunmen kidnapped dozens of students and staffs, in Kagara, Nigeria on 18 February, 2021.

AFP

The rise in abductions is fuelled in part by sizeable government payoffs in exchange for child hostages, catalysing a broader breakdown of security in the north, officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government denies making such payouts, and President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated on Friday that it would will not succumb to blackmail.

In a statement isued late on Friday, he also appealed to state administrations not to reward bandits with money or vehicles.

Rage and frustration in Jangebe

The town of Jangebe seethed with anger over the abduction, said a government official who was part of the delegation to the community.

Young men hurled rocks at journalists driving through the town, injuring a cameraman, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“People mobilised to block security operatives, journalists and government officials from getting access to the main town,” he said.

Parents arrive at the school compound in search of children kidnapped by bandits, in Jangede, Zamfara State in northwest Nigeria.

Parents arrive at the school compound in search of children kidnapped by bandits, in Jangede, Zamfara State in northwest Nigeria.

AFP

Parents also had no faith in authorities to return their kidnapped girls, Mohammed Usman Jangebe told Reuters by phone.

“We are going to rescue our children, since the government isn’t ready to give them protection,” he said.

“All of us that have had our children abducted have agreed to follow them into the forest. We will not listen to anyone now until we rescue our children.”

A military shake-up 

Mr Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs this month amid the worsening violence.

Last week, unidentified gunmen kidnapped 42 people including 27 students, and killed one pupil, in an overnight attack on a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger. The hostages are yet to be released.

In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 schoolboys in northwest Katsina state. They were freed after six days but the government denied paying a ransom.

Islamic State’s West Africa branch in 2018 kidnapped more than 100 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria, all but one of whom – the only Christian – were released. A ransom was paid, according to the United Nations.

Perhaps the most notorious kidnapping in recent years was when Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state in April 2014. The incident drew widespread global attention, with then US first lady Michelle Obama among the prominent figures calling for their return.

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Gunmen have shot dead two female Afghan judges in morning Kabul attack



Unidentified gunmen killed two female judges from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court on Sunday (local time), police said, adding to a wave of assassinations in Kabul and other cities while government and Taliban representatives have been holding peace talks in Qatar.

The two judges, who have not yet been named, were killed and their driver wounded in a morning attack, police said, adding the case was being investigated by security forces.

The attack happened as they were driving to their office in a court vehicle, Ahmad Fahim Qaweem, a spokesman for the Supreme Court told AFP.

“Unfortunately, we have lost two women judges in today’s attack. Their driver is wounded,” Mr Qaweem said, adding there are more than 200 female judges working for the country’s top court.  

A spokesman for the Taliban said its fighters were not involved in the attack. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other militant groups.

Mr Ghani said “terror, horror and crime” was not a solution to Afghanistan’s problem and beseeched the Taliban to accept “a permanent ceasefire”.

Government officials, journalists, and activists have been targeted in recent months, stoking fear particularly in the capital Kabul.

The Taliban has denied involvement in some of the attacks, but has said its fighters would continue to “eliminate” important government figures, though not journalists or civil society members.

Rising violence has complicated US-brokered peace talks taking place in Doha as Washington withdraws troops.

Sources on both sides say negotiations are only likely to make substantive progress once US President-elect Joe Biden takes office and makes his Afghan policy known.

The number of US troops in Afghanistan has been reduced to 2,500, the lowest level of American forces there since 2001, according to the Pentagon on Friday.

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Gunmen kidnapped and killed 11 miners in southern Pakistan



Gunmen in southern Pakistan have killed at least 11 workers at a remote coal mine, officials said Sunday.

The victims of the attack in Baluchistan province were from the minority Shiite Hazara community.

“Dead bodies of the 11 miners have been taken to a local hospital,” Khalid Durrani, a government official in the area, told AFP.

Ethnic Hazara make up most of the Shiite population in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan – the country’s largest and poorest region, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

They are often targeted by Sunni militants, who consider them heretics, though it was unclear why the attackers targeted the coal mine specifically.

The attack, before dawn on Sunday, took place in the far-flung and mountainous Machh area while the miners slept, MR Durrani said, adding that four other miners were injured and were being treated at the local hospital.

A security official told AFP the attackers first separated the miners, tied their hands and feet, took them out into the hills and later killed them. 

Both Mr Durrani and the security official said the victims belonged to the Hazara community.

Mr Durrani said the mine was deep in the mountains.

It was not clear how exactly the miners were killed, he told AFP.

The assailants fled after the attack. Both officials said police and members of the local paramilitary force were on the scene, where a search operation had been launched to trace the attackers.

No group has claimed responsibility.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned “the killing of 11 innocent coal miners in Machh” as a “cowardly inhumane act of terrorism”.

Liaqat Shahwani, a spokesman for the provincial government, confirmed the incident and told private TV channel Geo that it was an act of terrorism.

Though Pakistan’s mines are notorious for poor safety standards, such attacks against miners are rare.



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Gunmen kill 11 coal miners in Pakistan


Gunmen have opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners in Pakistan after abducting them, killing 11 in the south-western Baluchistan province, an official says.

Moazzam Ali Jatoi, an official with the Levies Force, which serves as police and paramilitary in the area, says the attack took place near the Machh coal field, about east of the provincial capital Quetta.

Mr Jatoi says armed men took the coal miners to nearby mountains, where they opened fire. He says six of the miners died at the scene and five died on the way to hospital.

He says an initial investigation revealed the attackers identified the miners as being from a Shiite Hazara community and the gunmen took them away for execution, leaving others unharmed.

No group immediately claimed responsibility but banned Sunni extremist organization Lashker-e-Jhangvi has targeted the minority Hazara community in Baluchistan in the past.

Local television footage showed security troops surrounding a desolated mountainous area diverting traffic and guiding ambulances to pick up the bodies.

News of the killings spread quickly among the Hazara community and members took to the streets in Quetta and surrounding areas to protest, blocking roads with burning tyres and tree trunks. Officials quickly closed the affected roads to traffic.

The violence was largely condemned across the country, with prime minister Imran Khan saying the perpetrators would be taken to task and the affected families would be taken care of.

Baluchistan is the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatist groups who have also targeted non-Baluch workers, but they have no history of attacks on the minority Shiite community.



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More than 100 people have been killed by gunmen in western Ethiopia, a human rights group says



Gunmen killed more than 100 people in an attack in western Ethiopia, the national human rights body said, the latest in a series of deadly assaults in the area.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, a government-affiliated but independent body, said in a statement late on Wednesday that “more than 100 people have been killed in fires and shooting perpetrated by armed men” in the Benishangul-Gumuz region.

There is no known link between the violence in Benishangul-Gumuz and military operations in northern Tigray region, which have killed thousands and sent more than 50,000 people fleeing over the border into Sudan

The commission said survivors had “disturbing photo evidence” of the attack on sleeping residents in Metekel zone, which began in the early hours of Wednesday and continued until afternoon.

Ethnic violence over land and resources has been a persistent problem in Ethiopia under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, often seen as a backlash to the Nobel Peace prize winner’s efforts to lead democratic reforms in Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Five officials were arrested on suspicion of playing a part in the trouble, the regional government said in a statement without giving further details of possible charges.

At least 36 survivors were being treated for bullet and arrow wounds in a hospital about 90 kilometres from where the attack occurred, the commission said.

“In addition to the damage inflicted on people’s lives and bodies, crops have been set alight. One victim told us he saw 18 such fires,” the statement said.

There were no security forces in the area at the time, the commission said.

Some of the victims said they knew their assailants, the commission said, adding that humanitarian aid should be sent to assist the displaced and wounded.

The region is home to ethnic Shinasha, Oromo and Amhara, the commission said, the latter two the largest and second largest ethnic minorities, respectively, in Ethiopia.

Some Amhara leaders have asserted ownership of the Metekel zone, claims that have inflamed tensions with ethnic Gumuz in the area.

Ethnic attacks 

Mr Abiy visited the Metekel zone on Tuesday and met residents at a town-hall style meeting, posting on Twitter: “The desire by enemies to divide Ethiopia along ethnic & religious lines still exists.”

Western Ethiopia has suffered a spate of horrific attacks in recent months.

At least 34 people were slaughtered in an attack on a bus in the same Metekel zone in November.

Twelve others were killed in a separate attack in the zone in October, and 15 died in a similar assault in late September.

In October, Abiy told lawmakers that fighters responsible for those killings were receiving training and shelter in neighbouring Sudan and that Khartoum’s assistance was needed to stabilise the area.

Opposition politicians, notably from the Amhara ethnic group, have sounded the alarm about what they say is a targeted campaign by ethnic Gumuz militias against ethnic Amhara and Agew living in Metekel.

They claimed at the time that more than 150 civilians had been killed in the attacks, figures that could not be independently verified..





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Boys escaped through forest after gunmen abducted their friends at Nigeria school



A view shows an empty classroom at the Government Science school where gunmen abducted students, in Kankara, in northwestern Katsina state, Nigeria December 14, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

December 15, 2020

By Ismail Abba and Afolabi Sotunde

KANKARA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Usama Aminu was one of the lucky ones. He managed to escape when gunmen abducted more than 300 pupils from his school in northwestern Nigeria.

“When I decided to run they brought a knife to slaughter me but I ran away quickly,” he said, sitting on a mat and speaking softly as he described how he had been in bed at the all-boys school in Kankara when he heard gunshots on Friday night.

At first, he said, the boys thought the commotion was from soldiers trying to protect them. But the attackers, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, were already in the building, threatening groups who tried to leave their dormitories at the Government Science secondary school in an attack that has outraged Nigerians.

“They said they would kill whoever is trying to escape then I began to run, climbing one rock to another through a forest,” Aminu said.

Many details of the raid and its aftermath remain unknown.

Police said on Friday they exchanged fire with the attackers, allowing some students to run for safety. A spokesman for Katsina state said 17 more students had been found on Monday, leaving about 320 students missing.

The president’s office said on Monday the government was in contact with the armed men and was negotiating the release of the boys after security agencies had located them.

“We are making progress and the outlook is positive,” Katsina Governor Aminu Bello Masari told reporters after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, who was visiting his home state.

The governor said the president was fully committed to the rescue of the schoolchildren, after he had been criticised in Nigerian newspapers for not visiting the school.

It is still not clear who the gunmen were and officials do not yet know the motive of the attack.

Attacks by armed gangs, widely known as bandits, are common throughout northwestern Nigeria. The groups attack civilians, stealing or kidnapping them for ransom.

ANGER

Muhammad Abubakar, 15, was another pupil who got away, trekking through farmland and a forest in the dark. He said he was among 72 boys who had reached safety in the village of Kaikaibise where he ended up.

“The bandits called us back. They told us not to run. We started to walk back to them, but as we did, we saw more people coming towards the dormitory,” he told Reuters.

“So I and others ran again. We jumped over the fence and ran through a forest to the nearest village.”

Abubakar, one of eight children, said he saw a number of boys being rounded up before they were marched out of the school, which has around 800 students. Seven of his friends are missing.

As he was reunited with his mother, who sells firewood for a living, he said: “I never thought I would see my parents again.”

Friday’s raid evoked memories of the 2014 kidnap of more than 200 girls from a school in the northeastern town of Chibok by Islamist group Boko Haram.

Since then, about half of those girls have been found or freed, dozens have been paraded in propaganda videos and an unknown number are believed to have died.

Despite the measures taken to find the boys and track down the assailants, there was growing anger at the precarious security situation in the country. On Monday, #BringBackOurBoys was trending on Twitter.

Late last month, Islamist militants killed scores of farmers in northeastern Borno, beheading some of them.

And in October the country was gripped by some of the worst civil unrest since its return to civilian rule in 1999, following weeks of largely peaceful protests against police brutality in which several demonstrators were shot dead.

Oby Ezekwesili, a former government minister and campaigner who organised the Bring Back Our Girls Movement after the Chibok abductions, said the insecurity that led to the latest abduction was the product of poor governance.

“Nothing of our government system was available to protect those children,” she told Reuters. “What else can define poor governance.”

The presidency declined to comment when asked for a response to the criticism.

(Reporting by Ismail Abba and Afolabi Sotunde in Kankara; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja and Nneka Chile, Seun Sanni and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Editing by Alison Williams)





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Nigeria: Hundreds of students missing after gunmen attack secondary school


Hundreds of Nigerian students are missing after gunmen attacked a secondary school in the country”s northwestern Katsina state, police said, while the president said the military was in gunfights with bandits in a forest as it tried to find the students.

The Government Science Secondary School in Kankara was attacked on Friday night by a large group of bandits who shot “with AK-47 rifles,” Katsina State police spokesman Gambo Isah said in a statement.

Police engaged the attackers “in a gunfight that gave (some of) the students the opportunity to scale the fence of the school and run for safety,” Isah said.

About 400 students are missing, while 200 are accounted for, Isah said. The school is believed to have had more than 600 students.

“The police, Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force are working closely with the school authorities to ascertain the actual number of the missing and/or kidnapped students,” said Isah. “Search parties are working with a view to find or rescue the missing students.”

A resident of the town, Mansur Bello, told The Associated Press that the attackers took some of the students away.

The military, supported by airpower, has located the bandits’ enclave in Zango/Paula forest in the Kankara area, and there have been exchanges of gunfire in an ongoing operation, said President Muhammadu Buhari, according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.

”Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” said the president’s statement. It did not say if any students have been rescued.

This attack, the latest on a school by gunmen in Nigeria, is believed to have been carried out by one of several groups of bandits active in northwestern Nigeria. The groups are notorious for kidnapping people for ransom.

The most serious school attack occurred in April 2014, when members of the jihadist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school dormitory in Chibok in northeastern Borno State. About 100 of the girls are still missing.



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Malalai Maiwand: Afghan female journalist killed by gunmen



Sediqi Sediqi, a spokesperson for President Ashraf Ghani condemned the murder, calling it “cowardly and heinous.”

“The Afghan government strongly condemns it and conveys message of condolence and sympathy to her family and friends,” Sediqi said in a tweet. “The current senseless violence against our people must end.”

At 7 a.m. local time, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Maiwand and her driver in an attack on their vehicle in Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern province of Nangarhar, a statement from the provincial media office said. She was a reporter at Enikas Radio and TV in Nangarhar and this is an incident that underscores an increasing trend of violence against journalists in the country.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Reuters cited Afghan interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian as saying that — over the past 15 years — the Taliban has been behind the majority of attacks on journalists.

CNN has reached out to the Taliban for comment. Meanwhile Reuters has cited Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying he denied the group’s involvement in the incident.

“She was on the way to office when the incident happened,” Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, told Reuters.

Enikas has been targeted before, with its owner, Engineer Zalmay, kidnapped for ransom in 2018.

Maiwand is also not the first of her family to be targeted. Five years ago, her mother, also an activist, was killed by unknown gunmen.

“With the killing of Malalai, the working field for female journalists is getting more smaller and the journalists may not dare to continue their jobs the way they were doing before,” Nai, an organization supporting media in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Last month, Elyas Dayee, a Radio Azadi journalist, was killed in a bomb blast in the southern Helmand province, and Yama Siawash, a former TOLOnews presenter, was killed in a similar blast in Kabul.

The Afghan government, German embassy, EU delegation and British ambassador condemned growing attacks on journalists and activists.

International donors and governments have also expressed apprehension about a possible reversal of progress on women’s rights over the last two decades if the Taliban return to any sort of power with the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country next year.

The Taliban’s hardline rule was marked by oppressive laws for women up until the group was toppled following a 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.



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Gunmen Attack Afghanistan’s Kabul University, Killing at Least 19


KABUL, Afghanistan — Three gunmen laid siege to Afghanistan’s largest university on Monday, taking hostages, killing at least 19 people and wounding more than a dozen, officials said. It was the second deadly assault with mass casualties on an education center in the capital in just over a week.

The three assailants were killed after Afghan security forces and American troops moved to root them out, ending the siege after six hours, the Interior Ministry said.

At least one senior Afghan official blamed the Taliban, but the insurgent group denied responsibility and said the Islamic State had carried out the assault, which shattered the sanctity of the campus on a warm fall day.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online messaging of extremist groups, said later that an Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State had claimed responsibility in a statement that referred only to two attackers and described the targets as “graduate judges and investigators belonging to the apostate Afghan government.”

The gunmen quickly spread out over the university grounds, detonating explosives and firing weapons. Video and photographs posted to social media showed students scrambling for cover and clambering over walls to get to safety. Sporadic gunshots echoed in the background. Several photos showed wanton carnage in at least one classroom, with shattered glass and blood-spattered notebooks scattered across the floor.

Fardin Ahmadi, a social science student, said he was stuck in his classroom for two hours, until Afghan forces evacuated him and several others. “The situation was very bad,” Mr. Ahmadi said. “Every single student wanted to save their own life; we had forgotten about anything else.”

Four hours into the assault, the attackers were still barricading themselves in classrooms.

Obaidullah Meraj, a doctor at the Ali Abad hospital, said that ambulances had transferred several wounded people, including students and professors from the university. More than 20 students and faculty members were held hostage at one point during the siege.

“During the attack on Kabul University, unfortunately, 19 were killed and 22 others were wounded,” said Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. By 5 p.m. roughly six hours after the attack began, he said, the three gunmen who carried out the assault had been killed.

The attack — the latest sign that spiraling violence in the Afghan countryside has made its way to the capital — followed a suicide bombing on Oct. 24 at an educational center in western Kabul. More than 40 people, most of them high school students from the Shiite Hazara ethnic minority, died in the attack, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Kabul University lifted its coronavirus restrictions in recent months, and thousands of students were most likely on campus at the time of the attack, spread among classrooms, dorms and a book exhibition highlighting authors from Afghanistan and Iran.

As the magnitude of the casualties became clearer, faculty members expressed shock.

“I am devastated. I am destroyed,” Sami Mahdi, a lecturer at the university and bureau chief of Radio Azadi, the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe, wrote in a Twitter post after visiting victims in the hospital. “Some of our best students are gone forever.”

Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s senior vice president, accused Taliban operatives of the assault in a Twitter post, saying they would never be able to “wash their Conscience of this stinking & non justifiable attack.”

But a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denounced the assault in a statement, denying responsibility and accusing the Islamic State of having carried it out. He also accused the Afghan government of having allowed the Islamic State to harbor in the country.

In 2018, a suicide bombing that killed dozens, claimed by the Islamic State, took place near Kabul University. In 2016, the Taliban attacked the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, killing at least 13.

The Islamic State has staged numerous high-profile attacks in Kabul in recent years, often striking government postings and Shiite Muslims at schools, places of worship and other easily infiltrated — or “soft” — targets.

Over the past three years, concerted U.S. and Afghan military campaigns beat back the Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan, hemming in what remained of the extremists in the country’s mountainous east. But the group still maintains capable terrorist cells in cities like Kabul, protected by secure messaging apps and careful communication with outside leadership.

Islamic State tactics have often mimicked those introduced by the Taliban, especially the Haqqani network, a group known for its ruthlessness, criminal networks and close ties to Al Qaeda.

But after the February agreement between the Taliban and the United States over the drawdown of American troops, the Taliban reduced attacks on cities, replacing them with targeted killings that go unclaimed and offensives in the country’s rural areas.

The attack on the university followed the deadliest month in Afghanistan for civilians since September 2019, according to data compiled by The New York Times. At least 212 people were killed in October, and, according to recently released United Nations data, about 2,100 Afghan civilians died and 3,800 were wounded in the first nine months of the year.

After the February agreement, the Taliban and the Afghan government began direct negotiations in September. But any hope of a quick resolution to the conflict has since faded, with negotiators from both sides still deadlocked in preliminary discussions on the rules and regulations that will govern future negotiations.

Najim Rahim contributed reporting from Kabul, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.





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