PESHAWAR: The Taliban have captured a stronghold of the Islamic State (IS)’s Khurasan chapter in the Afghan province of Nangarhar after three days of fierce fighting that claimed over 150 lives on both sides, The Express Tribune learnt from officials on Monday.
Saad Muradi, a front-line man of IS, also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish, was also killed in the three-day long battle, according to officials monitoring the Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency. “The Taliban now control Batitkot and Chaparyal areas which were captured over the last two days while Nazyan fell today,” one official said.
Banned TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah had survived a drone strike in Nazyan, while several IS fighters have been killed in the region in the US drone campaign. Local sources confirmed the development, saying more than 2,500 Taliban fighters were involved in the battle. They added that over 150 fighters were killed in fighting which is ongoing. “Of them, 35 are Taliban fighters.”
Sources also confirmed that the Afghan Taliban had taken control of the command and control centre of Da’ish in the area. They claimed that some rogue elements in the Afghan National Army were supporting Da’ish fighters.
Tribesmen from Nangarhar said the Afghan Taliban had convened a Jirga a fortnight ago to enlist support of the local villagers against Da’ish. They said the Taliban were advancing into other areas under IS influence and also eyeing parts of Kunar province.
A security official said Pakistani authorities have tightened security on the border with Afghanistan, particularly in Khyber Agency and the area around Rajgal, which remains a contested space for Pakistani militants and the security forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2016.