ISLAMABAD/KABUL: A “foreign” member of the Islamic State (IS) militant group has been arrested in connection with an attack last week on Pakistan’s embassy in the capital of Kabul, chief spokesperson of the Taliban government of Afghanistan, said Monday.
A security guard was critically wounded by shots fired at the embassy in Friday’s attack, in which shots were fired at the building housing Pakistan’s mission from a nearby building, which Islamabad described as an “assassination attempt” against the head of the mission, Ubaid ur-Rehman Nizamani.
Nizamani was walking across the lawn inside the embassy compound at the time of the attack. He was unharmed but Israr Muhammad, one of his guards from the Pakistan Army, was wounded.
The regional affiliate of IS, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (IS-KP) and a rival of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman, tweeted Monday that special forces had arrested the person responsible for the embassy attack.
“This person is a citizen of a foreign country and a member of IS,” he said, without disclosing which country the suspect was from.
“The investigation revealed that this attack was jointly organised by IS and rebels. Some foreign malicious circles are behind the attack and the aim was to create distrust between the two brotherly countries.”
Mujahid also declined to say if it was the same person other officials reported had been arrested hours after the incident. An investigation was continuing, he said.
The Foreign Office said on Sunday it was consulting Afghan authorities to verify the report of an IS claim of responsibility for the attack.
No country officially recognises Afghanistan’s Taliban government, but Pakistan kept its embassy open even as the group took over in August last year, and maintains a full diplomatic mission.
Pakistan has for decades had good relations with the Taliban but recently ties have been strained over security concerns on their common border. Pakistan is home to more than a million refugees from Afghanistan, and the porous border they share is frequently the scene of clashes.
The Foreign Office said Monday that Nizamani was now in Islamabad on a “prescheduled visit for consultations”, but said there were no plans to close the embassy or withdraw staff.
The Taliban are at pains to portray Afghanistan as safe for diplomats, but two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside the mission in September in another attack claimed by IS.
Last month, a gunman shot dead a soldier at the Chaman border crossing, leading to its closure for a week.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — whose leaders and fighters have long operated from Afghanistan — last week said they were ending a shaky ceasefire with Islamabad.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021 as American and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war. They established their own administration, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).
Since then, the group has insisted they would not allow foreign militant groups to operate from home soil.__Pakistan today