Center for Strategic Communication

A suicide bomber killed at least 16 Afghans, including 10 policemen, in an attack today in a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan. The bomber attacked Afghan policemen as they were providing security at a protest in Kunduz City in Kunduz province. Pajhwok Afghan News reported that 16 people were killed, while AFP reported that up to 21 people were killed in the blast.

Today’s attack in Kunduz is the second suicide bombing in a major Afghan city in three days. On Sept. 8, the Taliban claimed credit for an attack outside Camp Eggers, a large Coalition base in Kabul, that killed six Afghan civilians. The Taliban claimed that the suicide bomber targeted CIA personnel and killed “at least 5 high-level US secret agents.”

While no group has claimed credit for today’s suicide attack, the bombing was very likely carried out by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked terror group that has integrated its leadership and operations with the Taliban in the Afghan north.

The IMU is known to have a strong presence in Kunduz. Coalition and Afghan special operations forces have conducted numerous raids against the IMU in Kunduz over the past several years. This year alone, there have been 10 documented raids against the IMU in the province. The last raid was on Sept. 8, when special operations forces targeted an IMU facilitator who is suspected of providing money, ammunition, and explosives to support insurgent activity throughout the region. Several suspected insurgents were detained during the operation, but it is unclear if the target was among them.

The IMU has claimed credit for several suicide attacks in the north, including the November 2011 assault on a US Provincial Reconstruction Team in the peaceful province of Panjshir. At the end of November 2011, the IMU claimed that 87 of its members had been killed during operations in Afghanistan over the past year; many of those killed died in suicide attacks. The IMU commanders and fighters listed as “martyred” were from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Germany, and Russia.

The IMU has also carried out suicide operations that have killed top Afghan officials in the north. Most recently, the IMU is suspected of carrying out the July 14 suicide attack at a wedding in nearby Samangan province that killed a prominent Afghan member of parliament along with the western zone police commander, a provincial intelligence chief, and several senior Afghan officials.

Earlier this year, the US killed the former leader of the IMU, Abu Usman Adil, in a drone strike in Pakistan. The IMU announced his death in early August and named Usman Ghazi as the new leader of the al Qaeda-linked terror group.