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Head of IS in Afghanistan Killed

by Ayesha Tanzeem, VOA

The head of the so-called Islamic State group in Afghanistan, Hafiz Saeed Khan, has been killed in a drone strike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said 30 other members of the group also died in the strike Friday in Achin district.

Haseeb Sediqi, spokesman for the National Directorate for Security, called Khan “the so-called Ameer of Khurasan province from Daesh group.”

Daesh is another term for the Islamic State group.

‘Major impact’

The death, along with the killings of three other top commanders last week, will have a “major impact” on the group’s activities, Sediqi said.

“We will feel a considerable decrease and disruption in their activities,” he said.

The three commanders killed last week included Islamic State group military commander Gul Zaman; his deputy, Jahadyar, and Shahidullah Shahid, a former spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban who was ousted by them when he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, Sediqi said.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday that the U.S. conducted two drone strikes on July 6 and 7 but did not confirm who was killed in the strikes.

Sediqi said Afghans considered three factors when they decided to call on international allies for a drone strike to kill Khan, rather than sending in their own forces: effectiveness, speed and minimizing collateral damage through a precision airstrike.

Concentration of IS

The Islamic State group has shown a considerable concentration of fighters in the Nangarhar province lately and many airstrikes conducted in the last month have targeted groups of up to 20 people.

The Islamic State group is a slowly emerging phenomenon in Afghanistan.

Most of the members who have pledged allegiance to the Middle East-based group are former Taliban or other local militants.

Security forces in Afghanistan have created a three pronged special working group to deal with the threat of Islamic State militants.

The group consists of Intelligence officials to gather information about the group’s activities, analysts to sift through the intelligence, and special operations military units to decide how and when to conduct a military operation.

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