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The Taliban focus on the Islamic State whose attacks target the Shiite minority


The U.S. drone strike that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri exposed the ongoing threat from al-Qaida in Afghanistan, but the Taliban are focused on the Islamic State. NPR's Arezou Rezvani reports from Kabul.

AREZOU REZVANI, BYLINE: When you ask Afghans what's changed since the Taliban's return to power a year ago, everyone - whether they support them or not - says cities and villages are quieter, even safer, under Taliban rule. Gone are the days of bombings and suicide attacks the group often waged. But in seizing power, the Taliban have inherited a significant terrorism problem of their own. In the last week, Kabul has seen back-to-back attacks. More than 120 people have been killed or injured.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

REZVANI: All of them have taken place in Kabul's Shia Muslim neighborhood - near mosques, on crowded streets, in a residential apartment building. This latest wave has come during the holy days of Muharram, when Shias commemorate a revered religious figure.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in non-English language).

REZVANI: Kabul's Shia district this time of year is full of stalls that hand out free food and drinks. People go out to socialize. Some perform mourning rituals. All of it draws the attention of Islamic State militants who view Shias as apostates. And not even the children of this Shia neighborhood have been spared. Ghulam Hussain is the principal of the Abdul Shahid Rahim School (ph). One early morning a few months ago, as students were starting the school day, the Islamic State struck. Seven students died.

GHULAM HUSSAIN: (Non-English language spoken).

REZVANI: "Every moment, I think there's a possibility of another attack," Hussain tells me. "When we leave home, we think we're entering a battlefield. Right now, we're in a battle."

The Taliban have increased their security presence across Kabul. They've set up countless checkpoints, and intelligence agents roam the streets. But with the U.S. strike on al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahiri last week, followed by the Islamic State's attacks, that sense of security so many people here attribute to the Taliban may be slipping.

Arezou Rezvani, NPR News, Kabul, Afghanistan.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Arezou Rezvani is a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition and founding editor of Up First, NPR's daily news podcast.