World

Head of ISIS in Afghanistan Killed, Government Says

Ten other members of the militant group were also killed in a joint ground and air operation by Afghan and foreign forces.

Kabul: The head of ISIS in Afghanistan, Abu Saad Erhabi, was killed in a strike on the group’s hideouts in Nangarhar province on Saturday night, authorities said on Sunday.

Ten other members of the militant group were also killed in a joint ground and air operation by Afghan and foreign forces, the National Directorate of Security in Kabul said in a statement.

A large amount of heavy and light weapons and ammunition were destroyed during raids on two ISIS hideouts.

The jihadist group’s Amaq news agency carried no comment on the issue.

Lieutenant-Colonel Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said the US carried out a strike in Afghanistan on Saturday against a “senior leader of a designated terrorist organisation.”

The provincial governor of Nangarhar said Erhabi was the fourth ISIS leader in Afghanistan to be killed since July 2017.

The group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on Afghanistan’s porous eastern border with Pakistan, and become one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups.

The local affiliate of ISIS, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and US forces.

Former ISIS-K leader Abu Sayed was killed in a strike in the eastern province of Nangarhar and Sayed’s predecessors were killed in joint US and Afghan operations.

The exact number of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan is difficult to calculate because they frequently switch allegiances, but the US military estimates there are about 2,000.

More than 150 ISIS fighters surrendered to Afghan security forces this month in the northwestern province of Jawzjan, where the group is fighting for control of smuggling routes into neighbouring Turkmenistan.