KABUL – An Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) offshoot took credit for an attack at a Kabul hotel popular with Chinese diplomats and businessmen, the first attack targeting citizens from one of the few countries with good ties with the Taliban since it came to power in 2021.
Two armed members of the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), a local affiliate of the militant group operating in the Middle East, detonated explosive devices inside the Kabul Longan Hotel in a posh district of the Afghan capital on Monday.
The group claimed the suicide attack killed or wounded at least 30 people, according to the Site Intelligence Group.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government, Mr Zabihullah Mujahed, said two foreign nationals were injured while jumping from the hotel balcony and three assailants were killed after a gun battle with government forces.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a regular briefing on Tuesday that five Chinese citizens were wounded, and that Chinese diplomats in the South Asian nation have made serious representations with Afghanistan about the incident.
This is IS-K’s third attack in the last few months, hitting targets associated with nations that have friendly ties with the Taliban. Earlier in December, there was an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in the country. In September, the group claimed an attack just outside the Russian embassy, which killed several people, including a senior diplomat and a security guard.
The group is one of the Taliban’s most serious security threats, carrying out large-scale attacks in densely populated areas. Even before the Taliban took over, the militant group was fighting it in an attempt to impose its even-harsher Islamic ideology and expand its influence in the region.
The attacks highlight the difficulties the Taliban faces to break its international isolation and draw in foreign investments to the country’s largely untapped mineral resources.
The group has limited diplomatic links with only seven countries, including Russia and China, but even those countries have not formally recognised its government. BLOOMBERG, REUTERS