ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two senior regional members of the Islamic State group have been killed in Afghanistan in recent weeks in separate operations by the Taliban security forces, a Taliban spokesman said Tuesday.
Taliban forces killed Qari Fateh, the regional IS intelligence and operations chief, during a raid in Kabul over the weekend, Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for the Taliban government, said in a statement.
A news outlet allied with the Islamic State group on Tuesday posted confirmation of Fateh’s death on an IS-run Telegram chat.
Earlier this month in a separate operation in Kabul, three IS members — including senior IS leader Ijaz Amin Ahingar — were killed.
Mujahid said that a number of other IS members, including foreign nationals planning deadly attacks, also have been detained in recent days.
The regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province — is a key rival of the Taliban. The militant group has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.
In January, eight IS militants were killed and nine others arrested in a series of raids targeting key figures.
The raids in the capital city and western Nimroz province targeted IS militants who organized attacks on Kabul’s Longan Hotel, Pakistan embassy and the military airport.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing near a checkpoint at the Afghan capital’s military airport. IS said that attack was carried out by the same militant who took part in the Longan Hotel assault in mid-December.
IS claimed the attack on a Chinese-owned hotel in the heart of Kabul, causing China to advise its citizens to leave Afghanistan “as soon as possible.”
Earlier, the IS also claimed a shooting attack targeting the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul. Shots were fired at the embassy from a nearby building, triggering anger in Pakistan and raising tensions between the two South Asian neighbors.
Pakistan’s top diplomat in Kabul was walking across the lawn inside the embassy compound at the time of the attack. He was unharmed, but one of his Pakistani guards was wounded.
The Taliban swept across the country in mid-August 2021, seizing power as U.S. and NATO forces were withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
The international community has not recognized the Taliban government, wary of the harsh measures they have imposed since their takeover — including restricting rights and freedoms, especially for of women and minorities.