Head of Islamic State in Afghanistan ‘killed in raid’

US and Afghan officials say Abdul Hasib died in special forces operation conducted in April

Afghan security officials take position during an operation against Islamic Statge in Chaparhar district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on Monday. Photograph: Ghulamullah Habibi/EPA

Afghan security officials take position during an operation against Islamic Statge in Chaparhar district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on Monday. Photograph: Ghulamullah Habibi/EPA

 

The head of Islamic State in Afghanistan, Abdul Hasib, was killed in an operation on April 27th conducted jointly by Afghan and US special forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar, US and Afghan officials have said.

Hasib, appointed last year after his predecessor Hafiz Saeed Khan died in a US drone strike, is believed to have ordered a series of high profile attacks including one in March 8th on the main military hospital in Kabul, a statement said.

Last month, a Pentagon spokesman said Hasib had probably been killed during the raid by US and Afghan special forces in Nangarhar during which two US army rangers were killed, but there had been no confirmation until now.

“This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat Isis-K in 2017,” the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson said in a statement from US military headquarters in Kabul. Isis-K is Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate.

Gen Nicholson’s statement on Sunday, following an earlier announcement by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, said Hasib directed the March 8th attack on the main Kabul military hospital by a group of militants disguised as doctors. Dozens of medical staff and patients were killed in the attack.

It said he also ordered fighters to behead local elders in front of their families and kidnap women and girls to force them to marry Islamic State fighters.

Drone strikes

Isis-K has been active since 2015, fighting both the Taliban as well as Afghan and US forces.

It is believed to maintain links with the main Islamic State movement in Iraq and Syria but has considerable operational independence.

US and Afghan special forces, backed by drone strikes and other air support, have waged a series of operations against Isis-K since March, killing dozens of their fighters, mainly in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.

Defeating the group remains one of the top US priorities in Afghanistan and last month the United States dropped its largest non-nuclear device on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in Nangarhar, reportedly killing 94 fighters, including four commanders.

The US military statement said 35 Islamic State fighters and several high ranking commanders were killed in the April 27th raid.

Hundreds of fighters had been killed or captured this year and the offensive was continuing, it said, with over half the districts controlled by Isis-K retaken, allowing residents in some places to return for the first time in two years.

Reuters