Taliban government forces destroyed an ISIS cell north of Kabul late Sunday, a Taliban spokesman said, after an explosion outside a mosque in the Afghan capital killed and injured several civilians.
There was no confirmation that the operation was directly linked to Sunday’s blast, which appeared to be the most serious attack in the Afghan capital since the withdrawal of US troops in late August.
ISIS’ local affiliate, known as ISIS-Khorasan, has claimed responsibility for attacks targeting the Taliban and is still not at peace with the movement that won over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a special Taliban unit launched an operation against Islamic State elements in Kabul’s 17th district, in the northern part of the city, late on Sunday.
“ISIS headquarters were completely destroyed and all ISIS members on board were killed in this decisive and successful attack,” he said in a statement on Twitter early Monday.
Previously, local media had reported heavy clashes in the area and residents contacted confirmed they had heard explosions and gunfire during the night.
The Taliban, which also fights the remnants of forces loyal to Ahmad Massoud, the opposition leader from Panjshir, an area north of Kabul, claims to control almost the entire territory of the country.
But Sunday’s violence, and a series of minor incidents in recent days in the areas, which include Nangarhar on the border with Pakistan and Parwan to the north of Kabul, show that the security threat has not disappeared.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, as well as a suicide attack that killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had huddled outside the gates of Kabul airport, desperate to get a place on an evacuation flight. [uh/ab]