As the Taliban continues to struggle to device a functioning government administration that can provide adequate security and stability, while keeping the electricity flowing and food prices stable (among the most pressing needs confronting the Afghan people), yet another mosque was attacked Friday - the second major mosque attack in the country within a week.
Even as the Taliban retaliated against ISIS-K, the suspected perpetrators, by launching a deadly raid on an ISIS-K hideout, the insurgent group that sees itself as the biggest rival to Taliban rule was apparently bold enough to carry out another attack: per the NYT, a blast struck a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz Province in the middle of Friday prayers.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the explosion and said there were casualties, but refused to provide an exact figure on casualties, saying the Taliban is still investigating, the AFP reported that at least 50 were killed in the attack, making it the biggest since the attack on the Kabul Airport that killed 13 US marines and some 200 Afghans.
Both the Taliban and ISIS are Sunni fundamentalist groups, but ISIS has a much longer record of targeting Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere, focusing mostly on the Hazara ethnic minority, which is Shiite.
With this third major attack (plus plenty of others that have likely fallen below the radar), ISIS is clearly ramping up its campaign against the Taliban as it seeks to strike while it's enemy is hobbled. Afghanistan's economy is suffering as foreign funding and assets allegedly belonging to the US-backed former government have been frozen, while the Taliban have been excluded from the global dollar-based financial system, relying instead on "aid" from China and Russia in the short term.
The Taliban's No. 1 promise to the Afghan people is that, after 40 years of war, it will bring stability and safety to a population scarred by four decades of nearly-continuous war. Attacks like these are greatly helping to undermine the legitimacy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (as the Taliban are calling it) before the new nation can even stand on its own two feet.