Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan over the last two days have left over 30 people dead, including two American service members killed in Taliban birthplace Kandahar and 29 others murdered at a mosque by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for carrying out a suicide attack that killed 29 people and injured 63 others during evening prayers at a Shiite mosque in western Afghanistan’s Herat province.
Officials have noted that the toll may rise because ten of the wounded are in critical condition, CNN learned from Dr. Arif Shahram, the director of Herat Regional Hospital.
The following day, on Wednesday, Taliban terrorists killed two U.S. service members when they attacked a NATO convoy in opium-rich Kandahar, also known as the group’s spiritual home.
Referring to Tuesday’s incident, Mohammad Adi, a survivor, told Reuters, “Two attackers entered the mosque and started shooting and throwing grenades at people.”
Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the police chief in Herat, added that one of the bombers was hiding in plain sight when he blew himself up — among the crowd of worshippers.
The Pentagon has acknowledged that two U.S. troops were killed in the Taliban attack Wednesday.
“Two US service members were killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when their convoy came under attack,” stated U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
In a separate statement, NATO added, “Resolute Support can confirm a NATO convoy was attacked this afternoon in Kandahar. The attack did cause casualties.”
Resolute Support refers to the NATO-led mission that trains and advises Afghanistan’s military and police.
The attacks reflect the deteriorating security conditions in Afghanistan despite the more than $700 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds devoted to the conflict and the 2,255 American troops who have paid the ultimate price in the ongoing war.
In its latest quarterly report to Congress, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a watchdog agency, notes that, although the Afghan government has not lost any territory to jihadists in the last few months, terrorist attacks have intensified.
Jihadists failed to capture more territory during the quarter (April 1 to June 30, 2017) covered by the report.
Citing the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, SIGAR reveals that “as of May 15, 2017, the struggle between the Afghan government and insurgents remains a stalemate, with the number of districts and the portion of the population under Afghan government and insurgent control unchanged since last quarter’s February 15 assessment.”
However, it added that, “if left unchecked, [Afghanistan] could deteriorate further in favor of the insurgency.”
Terrorists, primarily the Taliban, still control or contest 40 percent of Afghanistan.
Although Taliban terrorists did not manage to capture more territory, they did escalate the number of attacks.
SIGAR learned from the United Nations that “from March 1 through May 31, 2017, the UN recorded 6,252 security incidents … This quarter’s figure represents a 21% increase from last quarter and a 2% increase from the same period last year.”
“Armed clashes between the security forces and the Taliban comprised 64% of recent security incidents, followed by 16% from improvised explosive devices [IEDs],” continues SIGAR.
The most dangerous region remains the area that borders Pakistan, where the majority of U.S. and Afghan casualties have taken place.
“According to the UN, the most unstable regions continue to be the eastern and southern regions of the country [along the Pakistan border], with security incidents increasing 22% in eastern Afghanistan this quarter compared to the same period in 2016,” reports SIGAR.