The Taliban have threatened to attack the capital Kabul “with all force” if President Ashraf Ghani goes forward with his decree, made on June 1, to hang 11 Taliban and Haqqani prisoners as retribution for the May 31 terrorist attack that killed over 100 people and injured 400 others in the capital. The Taliban has denied responsibility for this attack; the Afghan Interior Ministry stated on June 1 that Haqqani - an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated insurgent group based in Afghanistan and suspected of having ties with Pakistan - was involved. IS has not yet released a statement.
On May 31, a bomb exploded near the German Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace located in the Wazir Akbar Khan area at the center of Kabul’s highly secured diplomatic “Green Zone.” The bomb was reportedly delivered within a water tanker and contained over 1500 kg (3300 lb) of explosives that left a 7 m (23 ft) deep crater.
This attack took place during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan (May 26-June 25). Typically, there is a heightened terror threat during this period in Afghanistan; IS has in the past called on members to perpetrate attacks during Ramadan and some regional terrorist groups have followed suit. Furthermore, the Taliban, widely present in the region, announced the official start of their yearly spring offensive in late April, an announcement typically followed by a nationwide surge in attacks.
As always, due to major security concerns individuals throughout Afghanistan are urged to keep a safe distance from large gatherings, military convoys, government buildings, and crowded urban areas. Many Western governments advise their citizens against travel to Afghanistan due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorism, including frequent attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, local civilians and politicians, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place.
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