The leader of Daesh’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reportedly killed in a US
drone strike in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
Hafiz Saeed Khan and his senior lieutenants were killed in a US airstrike on July 26 in Nangarhar province, Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge said in a statement on Friday.
“Nangarhar province has been a hotbed for [Daesh] activity since the summer of 2015,” Trowbridge said. “Khan’s death affects [Daesh] recruiting efforts and will disrupt [its] operations in Afghanistan and the region.”
Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal also confirmed Khan’s death.
This is the second time that Khan is said to have died. In 2015, Afghan intelligence agents claimed he had been killed, but their claim was never substantiated.
His death will mark the second US killing of a key terrorist in the region within months.
In May, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.
The Takfiri terrorists
last month claimed responsibility for a bombing at a demonstration held by the Shia Hazara community in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where at least 80 people were killed.
The group has reportedly managed to establish connections with Taliban’s splinter groups, especially those believed to be discontent with changes in the Taliban leadership.
Officials in the Afghan government have blamed local leaders in the east of the country for the surge in the Daesh militancy.
The Daesh group was initially created and funded by the US and its regional allies to destabilize the Middle East region, particularly Syria.
Thw leader of Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been killed in a US drone strike, the Pentagon says.
The death of Hafiz Saeed Khan on July 26 is a blow to efforts by Islamic State – also known as ISIS or Daesh – to expand from its heartlands in Syria and Iraq into Afghanistan and Pakistan, already crowded with jihadist movements including the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The fatal strike follows the killing of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone attack in Pakistan in May. However, Afghanistan’s 15-year-old war grinds on with no clear victory in sight.
Taliban fighters have been threatening at least two provincial capitals this (northern) summer, in Helmand and Kunduz, and a US government report said Afghan forces had lost five per cent of territory this year.
In terms of its own territory, Islamic State has been largely confined to a handful of districts in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, where IS militants – mostly defectors from the Taliban – are blamed for raiding villages and government outposts.
A Pakistani Taliban faction also claimed responsibility.Still, worries that Islamic State might be expanding its operational reach heightened this week when the group took credit for an attack on a Pakistani hospital that killed at least 74 people in the southwestern city of Quetta.
A few weeks earlier Islamic State claimed an attack on a rally in Kabul that killed more than 80 people.
Khan has been reported dead before.
But a claim by Afghan intelligence agents last year that he had been killed was never confirmed.
On Friday, however, Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal told Reuters he had seen confirmation from Afghan security forces.
“I can confirm that ISIS Khurasan (Afghanistan and Pakistan) leader Hafiz Saeed Khan along with his senior commanders and fighters died in a US drone strike on July 26 in Kot district of Afghanistan’s Nangharhar province,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge confirmed Khan’s death, saying the air strike took place during joint operations by US and Afghan special operations forces against IS in the southern part of Nangarhar province.