Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban has killed eight ISIL (ISIS) fighters and arrested several others in a series of raids targeting key figures in a spate of attacks in Kabul, a senior Taliban government spokesman has said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday that the raids in the capital city and western Nimroz province the previous day targeted ISIL members who organised recent attacks on Kabul’s Longan Hotel, Pakistan’s embassy and the military airport.
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Eight ISIL fighters, including foreign nationals, were killed and seven others arrested in Kabul, while a separate operation in western Nimroz province resulted in two more ISIL arrests, Mujahid said.
“These members had a main role in the attack on the [Logan] hotel and paved the way for foreign [ISIL] members to come to Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said in a tweet.
ISIL claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing near a checkpoint at the Afghan capital’s military airport on Sunday. The group said that attack was carried out by someone that also took part in the Longan Hotel assault in mid-December.
ISIL had published a photo of the attacker, identifying him as Abdul Jabbar, saying he withdrew safely from the attack on the hotel after he ran out of ammunition. It added he detonated his explosives-laden vest targeting the soldiers gathered at the checkpoint.
Mujahid said light weapons, hand grenades, mines, vests and explosives were confiscated by the Taliban’s security forces during the raids on an ISIL hideout in the Shahdai Salehin neighbourhood of Kabul. Residents reported sounds of several explosions and an hours-long gun battle.
ISIL’s regional affiliate – known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) – is a key rival of the Taliban and has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority.
The Taliban swept across the country in August 2021, seizing power as United States and NATO forces were in the last weeks of their final withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.