KABUL, Afghanistan — Witnesses claimed attackers hit Taliban attacked in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least two militants and three civilians in the country’s most recent bloodshed since the group’s takeover in mid-August.
According to witnesses, gunmen opened fire on a Taliban vehicle at a local gas station in Jalalabad’s provincial capital, killing two militants and a gas station employee. They also stated that a kid was slain.
A third strike — a car explosion — resulted in the death of another kid and the wounding of two Taliban. Another Taliban car was bombed in Jalalabad, injuring a person nearby; it was unclear if the victim was a Taliban member or a civilian. Fearing Taliban retaliation, the witnesses spoke on the condition of anonymity.
No one has claimed credit for the assaults as of yet, however, the Islamic State, which is based in eastern Afghanistan, has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in Jalalabad last week that killed eight people.
The Taliban and the Islamic State are foes, and the assaults have sparked fears of a broader confrontation between the country’s new Taliban authorities and its long-time adversaries.
The Taliban is under pressure to restrict IS fighters, partly to keep a pledge made to the international community that they would not stage terror operations from Afghan land. Despite worries and doubts about the Taliban, there is still a widespread optimism among conflict-weary Afghans that the new authorities would at least restore a degree of public safety.
Despite prior claims of inclusion and respect for women’s rights, the Taliban have already imposed limitations on women and established an all-male administration. Those measures are reminiscent of the Taliban’s earlier leadership in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, when they imposed their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, on the country.
Separately, the World Health Organization issued a warning on Wednesday that Afghanistan’s health system is on the verge of collapsing and that immediate intervention is required. The declaration came after a recent visit to Kabul by a WHO delegation led by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency’s director-general, who met with Taliban commanders and others.
“The country is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster,” the statement stated, noting that hundreds of health institutions lack financing for medical supplies and personnel pay.
“Many of these institutions have now limited or shut down operations, requiring health practitioners to make difficult decisions about who to rescue and who to let die,” according to WHO. “Women must retain access to education, health care, and the health workforce,” according to the organization.
U.N. relief coordinator Martin Griffiths also announced the disbursement of $45 million in life-saving assistance from the UN’s emergency fund on Wednesday.
“It would be terrible to allow Afghanistan’s health-care delivery system to break apart,” Griffiths said in a statement. “Access to primary health care, such as emergency caesarian sections and trauma treatment, would be denied to people all throughout the country.”