Zabihullah Ghazi, Noor Zahid
May 20, 2016
An Islamic State (IS) commander in Afghanistan killed 11 of his fellow fighters in the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province, Afghan provincial authorities said.
The Nangarhar governor’s spokesperson, Attaullah Khogyani, told reporters on Friday about the unusual killings carried out by IS commander, Zameen Jan — also known as Abubakar — but provided few details about why the commander would target his own men. Khogyani said that after the killings, the commander was wounded by Taliban fighters who were now holding him.
Local residents and a posting by the Taliban on its Facebook page claimed that Jan took revenge on his fighters after his brother, a member of the Taliban, was killed by IS fighters this week in a gunbattle. IS has not commented on the report.
IS active in Achin
The Islamic State group has established a footprint in a number of Nangarhar districts, including Achin. Its fighters have launched multiple attacks on government security checkpoints. The group has also engaged in fierce clashes with rival Taliban militants in the province.
Afghan and NATO forces recently launched cleanup operations, and some areas have been cleared of IS fighters. But despite the claims by Afghan authorities to have weakened the group, IS fighters remain active in the province.
Their influence remains so strong that thousands of students in parts of Nangarhar have been unable to attend schools because IS forbade them from opening. The group also recently restarted its propaganda radio broadcasts in Nangarhar after being knocked off the air by government airstrikes earlier this year.
The Taliban and IS have become enemies as the Taliban view IS as an outside force, according to Kabul-based security analyst Wahid Muzhda. IS accuses Taliban militants of being apostates because they have established connections with foreign countries through their office in Qatar, he said.
Nevertheless, he said that the group’s struggles appear to be weakening its appeal in Afghanistan.
“IS has lost its attraction,” he said, adding that IS “is faced with internal divisions, and many commanders have already abandoned the group.”
Muzhda said that overall, IS is struggling to hold on to conquered territory while under pressure from both the Taliban and the government.