ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban killed eight Islamic State militants and arrested nine others in a series of raids targeting key figures in a spate of attacks in Kabul, a senior Taliban government spokesman said Thursday.
Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban government, said the raids in the capital city and western Nimroz province on Wednesday targeted IS militants who organized recent attacks on Kabul’s Longan Hotel, Pakistan’s embassy and the military airport.
Eight IS fighters, including foreign nationals, were killed and seven others arrested in Kabul, while a separate operation in western Nimroz province resulted in two more IS arrests, Mujahid said.
“These members had a main role in the attack on the Chinese hotel and paved the way for foreign IS members to come to Afghanistan,” Mujahid said in a tweet.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing near a checkpoint at the Afghan capital’s military airport Sunday. IS said that attack was carried out by the same militant who took part in the Longan Hotel assault in mid-December.
The regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province and a key rival of the Taliban — has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.
IS published a photo of the attacker, identifying him as Abdul Jabbar, saying he withdrew safely from the attack on the hotel after he ran out of ammunition. It added he detonated his explosives-laden vest targeting the soldiers gathered at the checkpoint.
Mujahid said light weapons, hand grenades, mines, vests and explosives were confiscated by the Taliban’s security forces during the raids on an IS hideout in the Shahdai Salehin neighborhood. Local residents reported sounds of several explosions and an hourslong gun battle.
Mohammad Hakim Painda, a local resident, told the Associated Press that a house that was raided had been occupied by a family that moved recently to the area.
He said two women and two children were rescued from the house.
Badrudin, another resident from the same neighborhood, said Taliban security forces surrounded the area and asked people to stay inside their homes before they launched the operation.
“I wanted to come out of house, but Taliban asked me to stay inside, then (the) attack started and last(ed) about two hours,” said Badrudin, who like many Afghans uses only one name.
The Taliban swept across the country in August 2021, seizing power as U.S. and NATO forces were in the last weeks of their final withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.