Dozens die as terrorists try to seize east Afghanistan
DOZENS were killed yesterday as security forces fought Isil militants trying to seize power in parts of eastern Afghanistan.
Fighters pledging allegiance to the terrorist movement, also known as Daesh, attacked checkpoints in the Kot area of Nangarhar province.
As many as 36 militants were killed in the assaults, with at least a dozen police and civilians also losing their lives.
It comes three months after president Ashraf Ghani said the terrorists had been wiped out in Afghanistan.
Extremists had set up an offshoot of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militant group there in 2014, going on to fight both the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in a bid to increase their influence.
The US military estimates up to 3,000 Isil fighters are in Afghanistan, mostly disaffected Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, as well as Uzbek Islamists and locals.
Saleem Khan Kunduzi, the governor of Nangarhar province, said: “There is no doubt that Daesh do not respect anyone.
“They kill people, regardless of whether they’re a child or a woman. They burn down madrasas, mosques and schools.”
Sediq Ansari, the head of Afghanistan’s civil society federation, blamed local leaders for failing to tackle the threat from Isil.
He told the Reuters news agency: “They should be accountable for every drop of blood that has been shed in Nangarhar so it becomes a lesson to other officials.”
Isil is also a bitter foe of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, which it accuses of lacking Islamic zeal.
The US Air Force has begun launching air strikes on its positions in the country.
So far this year, 60 to 80 American air raids have targeted Isil in Afghanistan, including attacks by drones and strike aircraft.
Isil’s leadership is now believed to have left Nangarhar and moved northwards into the neighbouring Kunar province.
That could be the next target if the group has the strength to expand.