Mangal Bagh group gaining strength in Nangarhar
KABUL (Pajhwok): Officials and Residents say the strength of Pakistani militant Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-i-Islami group, which has joined forces with Islamic State, has been on the increase in the Shinwari zone of eastern Nangarhar province.
The Mangal Bagh Afridi-led group has recently joined hands with Daesh militants in the Shinwari zone encompassing three districts near the Pakistani border.
A government official in Achin district said fighters loyal to Bagh were operating in Achin, Nazyan and nearby areas and they conducted joint operations with the Islamic State fighters.
A member of an uprising group in Achin, Nosher Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Lashkar-i-Islami and Islamic State militants had recently started holding meetings at various places.
“The Mangal Bagh group has joined forces with Daesh in Achin and Nazyan districts. All these militants after crossing the Durand Line into Shinwari zone create problems for local residents.”
Saqim, a resident of Nazyan district, said he was member of an anti-Daesh militia. He said in areas where Daesh had a presence, Mangal Bagh fighters could also be seen there.
Nangarhar police chief Brig. Gen. Fazl Ahmad Sherzad said the Mangal Bagh-led group had long been operating in areas along the Durand Line. He said Afghan security forces had the ability to keep all such groups at bay.
Sherzad confirmed a son of Mangal Bagh and a key commander of his group had been killed in an airstrike in Abdulkhel area of Achin district last week.
Four days ago, local officials said a US drone targeted a meeting of Lashkar-i-Islami militants in the area.
Achin district chief Haji Ghalib Mujahid said Bagh’s son Ajnabi and commander Shams were among eleven people killed in the drone strike.
Nangarhar intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Dad Mohammad Harifi, however, said they had no evidence to prove if Mangal Bagh-led militants had ever attacked security posts in Nangarhar.
“In these areas, there is no group having the ability to deteriorate the security situation,” he said.
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