JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Sept. 27 (UPI) — At least 300 militants allied with the Islamic State have assaulted police checkpoints in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, according to local officials.
At least two police officers and 60 militants are reported to have been killed in the ongoing fighting in Achin district, close to the Pakistani border, the BBC quoted a local official as saying.
Militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, traditionally aligned with the Taliban, have as early as October 2014 pledged allegiance to IS — also known as ISIS or Daesh — but the first to be formally announced by the group was the Khorasan Province, which formed in January after Taliban leaders from both countries pledged allegiance to IS under the local leadership of Hafiz Said Khan, a former Pakistani Taliban commander.
Xinhua news agency quoted district governor Hajji Mohammad Ghalib as saying the militants overran two checkpoints, which police recaptured after four officers were wounded in a lengthy firefight.
Local officials told the BBC IS militants in Nangarhar province have recently been taking prisoners, some of whom are tortured and beheaded.
An online IS statement reportedly claimed a “big attack” was carried out in the province, where local officials say IS fighters have emerged over the past months.
IS fighters are also reported to have clashed with Taliban forces in the same area, as well as in the southern Zabul and western Farah provinces.
The attack in Achin district, which lies in an area the extremists refer to as “Khorasan state,” is the first reported clash between IS militants and Afghan security forces.
According to a Sept. 27 statement by Afghanistan’s interior ministry, security forces killed 14 armed insurgents during counter-terrorism operations in the Nangarhar, Oruzgan, Ghazni, Paktika and Nimroz provinces.
The Afghan interior ministry has throughout the summer released similar reports of security forces killing scores of insurgents during operations across the country.