The Taliban’s tenuous support in the capital is predicated on a promise to provide security after four decades of war and violence. That security is backed by the enforcement of hard-line religious laws, which includes public executions and amputations for menial offenses.
But since the group’s return to power, it has been forced to defend against attacks from the Islamic State and resistance forces. Now the Taliban finds itself in a similar position to the government it displaced: trying to prevent insurgent attacks on its fighters and infrastructure.
Sunday’s blast was the first at a mosque in Kabul since the Taliban seized the capital in August. It was the deadliest attack since an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. service members and nearly 200 Afghan civilians during the evacuation of Kabul’s international airport that month.
Taliban fighters on Sunday hurried people from the scene around Eid Gah mosque, a place of worship popular with Taliban officials. The city of more than five million, along with the rest of the country, is contending with an economic downturn and a humanitarian crisis.
Additionally, a drought and paralyzed international aid have put Afghanistan’s more than 30 million people in an increasingly desperate position, especially as winter approaches.
Victor Blue contributed reporting from Kabul