US airstrikes kill 85 Pakistani Daesh militants: Afghanistan
A MQ-1B Predator drone operated by the US Air Force sits on the runway in Ali air base in Iraq. (Wikimedia Commons)
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US-drone strikes killed 85 suspected Daesh militants in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province on Sunday, the Afghan intelligence agency claimed.
According to National Directorate for Security (NDS), the drones targeted a suspected gathering of militants in the province’s Achin district.
The intelligence agency, without providing any proof, claimed that all slain people were Pakistani Daesh militants belonging to the so-called “Hafiz Saeed group”.
Hafiz Saeed, an alleged former Taliban leader who later supposedly became a Daesh leader responsible for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was said to be killed in a previous US drone strike, also in Achin district, in mid-July.
In a statement, the NDS said that that 60 suspected Daesh fighters and their commander Jalil Worakzai were killed in the first strike conducted in the district’s Abdul Khil locality Sunday. Later, another strike killed 25 suspected Daesh fighters in Shodel locality, which also destroyed three pick-up vehicles.
The attacks came after Daesh allegedly launched its first attack on Afghan security forces early Sunday with hundreds of fighters in eastern Nangarhar province, killing four policemen and wounded eight others.
Daesh emerged out of the blue in Afghanistan in 2014. On Friday, the United Nations in its report claimed that up to 70 Daesh fighters arrived in Afghanistan from Iraq and Syria to establish a foothold in the country.
“The newly-emerged extremist group is recruiting members in 25 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan,” the UN report said.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry rejected the report on Sunday. Talking to media in Kabul, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Seddiq Seddiqi said that Afghan intelligence reports indicated that Daesh only had footprints only in Helmand and Nangarhar provinces, and not in 25 provinces as the UN claimed.
Also, the Afghan Taliban deny that they have any agreement with Daesh allowing them to start an insurgency in Afghanistan and see the presence of Daesh as part of an alleged Kabul-backed international conspiracy against their own militant movement.
Pakistan reiterates Taliban talks offer
Meanwhile, Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister on national security, has reiterated Islamabad’s readiness to facilitate peace negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, local Pakistani media reported Sunday.
In remarks made on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sunday, Aziz said that peace in Afghanistan meant security in Pakistan.
“This is a pre-requisite for peace and stability. And if the government of Afghanistan desired that peace talks must be resumed, yes they would be resumed soon,” Aziz said.
By Zabihullah Tamanna and Sardar Hussain