Pakistani fighters join IS against Taliban in Nangarhar
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The governor on Saturday claimed more fighters from Pakistan had arrived in eastern Nangarhar province to join the Islamic State (IS) group and others from Afghan provinces to back the rival Taliban.
It is said fresh clashes between the two rival armed groups in the Achin district had left a number of civilians and a tribal elder dead.
Dozens of homes have been burned and according to the governor, airstrikes by foreign troops in the same district had killed and wounded a large number of fighters from both the sides.
Local residents say civilians suffered casualties and financial losses as a result of the clashes between the two groups and several families had left for other areas.
Clashes between the IS and Taliban gunmen have been ongoing over the past four months in the Shinwari region. However, recent reports say the clashes have subsided.
Nangarhar governor Salim Khan Kunduzi told a press conference on Saturday that some civilians had been killed and a number of houses torched during yesterday clashes between the two groups.
“Simultaneously in the same area, foreign troops have carried out an airstrike that killed 30 fighters from both the groups,” the governor said.
To a question from this scribe, the governor said they had no exact figures for the civilians killed and the houses set ablaze, pending an investigation.
“The infighting has also left 15 militants killed and several others wounded. We are investigating the figures, but I can say the fighting has come to a close now.”
The governor for the first time acknowledged that fighters from Pakistan had joined the IS group and from provinces, including Logar, had joined the Taliban in the Shinwari zone, but he had no figures.
Kunduzi said the clashes between the two groups were in the interest of the government because all those killed were opponents of the regime.
A tribal elder from the Shinwari zone, Malak Sattar, told Pajhwok Afghan News a tribal elder Malak Banaras and six civilians had been killed in the IS-Taliban clashes that left dozens of houses torched.
The latest exodus took place on Saturday when about 200 families fled homes fearing resumption of the clashes, he said.
Malak Sattar said: “The government is unreasonably happy about the clashes that have terrified and confined people to their homes. Women cannot fetch water from natural streams and people’s movement has reduced and many civilians have lost lives.”
Meanwhile, Nangarhar police spokesman Col. Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal told Pajhwok Afghan News that the police chief had directed security officials in the Achin district not to allow the two rival groups to inflict casualties on civilians during their clashes.
The clashes have not only destabilised the Shinwari region, but have led to the closure of some schools there.
Education department spokesman Mohammad Asif Shinwari told Pajhwok Afghan News there were six schools, including a high school, in the Achin district.
He said exams at the five primary schools had been taken ahead of the clashes, but exams could not be conducted in the high school which had been closed due to the conflict.
He said there was no such problem in other districts of the Shinwari zone as schools in some areas had gone on summer vacations and there were no clashes in other areas of the zone.
Two days ago, the provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Fazl Ahmad Sherzad, told reporters that ground and air operations had been intensified against the Daesh and Taliban militants.
He said 98 militants were killed during the past one week as a result of these operations.
The Taliban and Daesh groups have so far said nothing about their clashes.
The Afghan spy service, the National Directorate of Security, has said Daesh central leader Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Gul Zaman and another key commander and former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, have been killed in US drone strikes in the region.
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