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6/27/2023  Afghanistan  (International Christian Concern)  –   Ongoing instability in Afghanistan led to 1,095 civilians killed and 2,679 wounded between August 2021 and May 2023, according to a report from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

The report highlighted “an increase in the lethality of suicide attacks since. . . with a smaller number of attacks causing a greater number of civilian casualties.”  More than 700 of the civilian deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occurring in public places such as mosques, education centers, and commercial markets.  The Islamic State (ISIS) was responsible for over 1,700 casualties. The Taliban government claimed that “security forces of the Islamic Emirate oblige themselves to ensure security of the citizens and take timely action on uprooting the safe havens of the terrorists,” in response to another UN report citing security concerns.

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan followed almost 20 years of a protracted counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban as part of the Global War on Terrorism. The withdrawal followed the stipulations of an agreement signed in early 2020 that included commitments from the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government and to prevent al-Qa’ida (AQ) and ISIS from establishing “safe haven” in the country.

Despite the total collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government to Taliban forces and an attack perpetrated by ISIS-Khorasn Province that killed 13 U.S. military personnel, U.S. forces completed the withdrawal in August 2021. Analysts cited the CIA drone strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri—the leader of AQ after U.S. forces killed Usama bin Ladin in 2011—as evidence that the Taliban was providing “safe haven” to AQ elements.

A UN Security Council assessment from 2022 noted that “There are no recent signs that the Taliban has taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist fighters in the country. On the contrary, terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom there than at any time in recent history.”

Amid a precarious security situation, Christians in Afghanistan face intense persecution under the repressive Islamic regime imposed by the Taliban. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, most Afghan Christians fled the country or went into hiding, facing death if discovered.

International Christian Concern (ICC) has previously reported on the flight of desperate Afghan Christians to neighboring countries. One year after the Taliban regained control of the country, ICC also published a report on the state of the church.