Guess what? The Taliban intelligence directorate claimed that it had killed “three important ISIS members” in Balkh during an operation. On Sunday night, March 26, the directorate said on its Twitter account that the men were killed in the 5th, 8th and 10th districts of Balkh province following the launch of Taliban operations.
- According to the Taliban, Mawlawi Ziauddin, ISIS’s second in command; Abu Omar Afridi, a member of the Khorasan branch, and Ustad Salman Tajikistani, an ISIS military trainer and specialist, have been killed in the Taliban operations.
- So far, independent sources have not confirmed the deaths of these ISIS members. According to the Taliban, Mawlawi Ziauddin was the ISIS “governor for Khorasan” and “responsible for administrative and judicial affairs” before the takeover of the position by Shahab al-Muhajir.
- Ustad Salman was a citizen of Tajikistan and a specialist in military training and explosives manufacturing, Taliban intelligence officials said.
- The directorate also said that in a series of Taliban operations in Faryab Province, all members of the Islamic State (IS) group who were involved in the attack on former Taliban governor Mohammad Dawood Muzammil in Balkh have been arrested.
- According to Taliban intelligence, the detainees had also carried out attacks in Faryab and Kabul. Taliban intelligence also claimed that the perpetrator of the attack on the group’s governor in Balkh was a Tajik national and had recently been deployed to Afghanistan to attack.
Meanwhile, in another operation, the Taliban announced that its security forces have killed a key ISIS commander in a special counterterrorism raid in Kabul city.
- The Taliban security forces launched a special operation on an ISIS hideout in the Butkhaak, PD 12 of Kabul city, which resulted in the death of Asad Laghmani, known as ‘Qais’ who was allegedly involved in the attack on the interior ministry mosque.
- Security forces also seized several weapons and ammunition during the operation.
Back story: This is the second Taliban operation against ISIS in Balkh province in the past week. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reported an attack on three ISIS hideouts in Mazar-e-Sharif on March 18.
- Despite the increase in Taliban attacks on ISIS in Afghanistan, the group is trying to undermine ISIS’s presence in Afghanistan. After the CENTCOM commander’s remarks in the US House of Representatives about the growing threat of Daesh in Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesman accused the US of “magnifying” the danger posed by Daesh in Afghanistan.
Zoom out: ISIS has increased attacks in Afghanistan ever since the Taliban came to power in 2021.
- The Taliban too has increased its operations against the group. In fact, on Sunday the Taliban security forces have discovered a weapon cache and mine-making center of Daesh, or Islamic State (IS), in Shiberghan, the capital of Afghanistan’s northern Jawzjan province, the provincial police chief said.
- Acting on a tip-off, the security forces raided a house in Sakhi Abad village of Shiberghan and discovered a variety of arms and ammunition, including a suicide vest, hand grenades and objects used in making mines and explosive devices, Shah Mohammad Ahmadi said.
- The Taliban police chief claimed that the IS-affiliated militants were planning to launch subversive activities but their plot had been foiled.