Taliban forces kill top Islamic State commander in Afghanistan

Taliban forces killed a top Islamic State commander who allegedly planned attacks against diplomatic missions in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, a government official said.

Violence in Afghanistan dramatically dipped after the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

But in the past year, security has worsened, with a spate of mass casualty attacks claimed by Islamic State’s regional chapter.

Taliban forces killed Qari Fateh, the regional IS ‘intelligence and operations chief’, during an operation on Sunday night, the Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Monday.

Fateh ‘directly masterminded recent operations in Kabul, including against diplomatic missions, mosques and other targets’, Mujahid said.

One other IS member was killed in the operation against the cell, which was based in Kabul’s Khair Khana area, according to the statement.

Residents in that neighbourhood had reported loud gunfire on Sunday night.

Taliban officials posted footage on Twitter of two bodies lying in debris.

A United Nations Security Council report in July 2022 described Fateh as a key IS leader, charged with military operations in an area spanning India, Iran and Central Asia.

IS has emerged as the biggest security challenge to Taliban rule, staging attacks on foreigners, religious minorities and government institutions.

Both groups share an austere Sunni Islamist ideology, but IS is fighting to establish a global ‘caliphate’ whilst the Taliban have a more inward-looking goal of ruling an independent Afghanistan.

IS claimed responsibility for a December gun raid on a Kabul hotel that wounded five Chinese nationals.

Also in December, the group attacked the Pakistani embassy in Kabul. Islamabad described it as an ‘assassination attempt’ on its ambassador.

And in January, the group claimed a suicide bombing near the foreign ministry in Kabul that killed at least 10 people.

Two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September last year, another attack claimed by IS.

The Taliban have blamed the group for a September 2022 suicide attack in Kabul that killed 54 -- including 51 women and girls. 

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