JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Security forces on Sunday killed at least five Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan, according to officials.
Xinhua news agency, quoting a defense ministry statement, reported troops with the Afghan National Army fired heavy weapons at IS hideouts in the Achin district of Nangarhar province for two days as part of “Shaheen 10,” a clearing operation launched more than a month ago across the country’s mountainous east.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs on Saturday said army and police forces killed at least six armed insurgents and injured another two during the past 24 hours of security operations across the country, including in the Nangarhar province.
Since October 2014, some militant cells in Pakistan and Afghanistan, traditionally aligned with the Taliban, have pledged allegiance to IS, a terrorist group holding territory in Iraq and Syria. Militants in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen and other countries have followed suit.
The Khorasan Province, which formed in January after Taliban leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was the first regional cell to be formally announced by IS. The group rallied under the local leadership of former Pakistani Taliban commander Hafiz Said Khan.
IS’s stronghold in Afghanistan is seen as Nangarhar province, specifically the Achin district, where hundreds of IS militants attacked police checkpoints in September. Local officials said two police officers and 60 of the militants were killed during the assaults.
IS has killed and abducted hundreds of Afghans in eastern parts of the country it seized from the Taliban earlier this year. Locals reportedly said the brutality of the Taliban paled in comparison.
Earlier this month, IS militants used razor wire to behead at least seven civilians in the country’s southern Zabul province, prompting thousands of Afghans to protest in the streets of Kabul in a call for greater security.
By Fred Lambert