KUNDUZ -- Two years after the bloodiest attack on a Shia place of worship in Kunduz city ever, the families of the victims are calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators.
The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the October 8, 2021, suicide bombing of the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque, which killed more than 60 people and wounded almost 100 others.
Ghulam Mohammad Hashemi, 35, a resident of Kunduz city, lost his brother in the bombing and has been taking care of his brother's wife and three children since then.
"My brother was a working-class man who was earning a living for his family through day labor, but bloodthirsty ISIS took him forever from us," Hashemi said.
"Every time I remember that attack, I get lost in my thoughts. ISIS martyred several of my relatives in front of my eyes," said Hashemi, who was wounded that day.
He called on Afghan authorities and the international community to prosecute the ISIS-K members responsible for planning and carrying out the heinous bombing.
Sayed Askar Hashemi, 38, said he will never forget ISIS-K's horrendous crime.
He told Salaam Times he lost his brother and four cousins that day.
Now their families are suffering from economic and mental health problems, Hashemi said, emphasizing that no level of support and condemnation by the government and aid agencies can alleviate the pain of these families.
"ISIS is a brutal group that spares no one," he said. "ISIS kills innocent people and has destroyed several families. Many women have lost their husbands and children to ISIS attacks, and their lives have been ruined."
Hashemi called on the international community, especially the international courts, to investigate the massacre and to restore justice for the families of the victims.
Fear of ISIS attacks
Family members of other victims of the Kunduz attack said they are afraid ISIS will continue to kill and massacre Shia.
ISIS-K has bombed a number of Shia mosques and other civilian targets in recent years.
A week after the attack in Kunduz, blasts tore through the Shia Fatemiyyeh Mosque in Kandahar city on October 15, 2021, killing at least 33 people and injuring 74 others.
Just last week, on Friday (October 13), another ISIS-K attack on the Imam Zaman Mosque in Pul-e-Khumri city, Baghlan province, killed at least 17 people, according to hospital officials and eyewitnesses.
Ghulam Rabbani Mosavi, 24, who lost his father in the attack on the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque, said he is worried about further ISIS bombings of worshippers and civilians.
"I had taken my sick mom to Kabul for medical treatment on that black day," he recalled. "My mom fainted when she learned that my father was martyred in the mosque, worsening her health."
"My family and I haven't seen a good day since then. Our life is ruined with my father's departure."
"Families of the victims want a serious fight against this terrorist group so that it is destroyed," Mosavi told Salaam Times. "Public mobilization and outside support are needed to fight this ruthless group."
ISIS-K has been increasing its activities over the past two years and has organized very complex attacks in different parts of the country, said Saeedullah Akbari, 52, a resident of Kunduz city.
"We have seen mosques, schools and residential areas in Kabul, Herat, Balkh and other provinces attacked in the past two years," he said. "I am afraid that such deadly attacks will happen again in our province and that innocent people will once again be killed."
"Every time I see a large crowd or go to the mosque, I have major fear in my heart about a possible ISIS attack," he said.
Increasing threat of ISIS-K
Afghan political and military analysts warn that unless contained, ISIS will have the capability to carry out attacks abroad.
ISIS-K is becoming stronger in Afghanistan and is trying to infiltrate other countries, said Abdul Hafiz Samadi, a military analyst based in France.
"About 28 ISIS members were arrested in Iran on September 24, which in itself indicates the [spreading] presence of the group," he told Salaam Times.
ISIS-K also claimed responsibility for a July 30 suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. It killed at least 54 people and injured about 200 more at a political rally.
"Unfortunately, ISIS has carried out major attacks in the last two years across different provinces of Afghanistan," Samadi said, citing attacks that killed the Balkh governor and Badakhshan deputy governor.
On March 9, an ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated explosives inside the office of Balkh governor Mohammad Dawood Muzammil, killing him and two others and wounding another two.
Muzammil had led the fight against ISIS in his previous posting as governor of Nangarhar province.
Two days later, ISIS bombed an event honoring the media at the Tabyan Cultural Center in Mazar-e-Sharif.
The attack was caused by a "parcel bomb that ISIS fighters managed to place and detonate" at the event, according to Amaq, ISIS-K's propaganda agency.
At least three people were killed while several journalists and three children were wounded, according to police.
Meanwhile, in back-to-back explosions on June 6 and 7, ISIS bombers first killed Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi, the acting governor of Badakhshan, while he was being driven to work in the provincial capital Faizabad. The driver was also killed and six people were wounded.
Then, at Ahmadi's funeral, another bomber killed at least 11 people and wounded 30.