At least two children were killed and a police officer and eight other civilians injured in two IED explosions in Mazar-e-Sharif (Balkh province). The first explosion reportedly occurred at around 08:30 (local time) near the regional hospital. The second explosion, targeting first responders, reportedly caused the casualties. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Investigations are ongoing.
A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are expected in the vicinity of the attack over the coming hours. Similar militant attacks are likely over the near term.
Increased militant activity has been reported across Balkh province and the northwestern regions over the past weeks, with over 46 incidents recorded between January 4 and January 11, 2020.
Taliban and Islamic State (IS) militants launch attacks on government personnel, security forces, and civilians in Afghanistan on a near-daily basis. Such assaults are, in part, intended to undermine the perceived capacity of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) - and the Afghan government more broadly - to adequately provide security in the wake of the withdrawal of most US-led NATO forces from the country.
Individuals in Balkh province are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities or their home governments.
The security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.