Taliban and Islamic State militants jointly attacked an Afghan unit in the northern part of the country Saturday, government officials told The New York Times.
The attack killed nearly 50 Afghan local police, militia-men loyal to the government, and surrounding civilians. The militants reportedly beheaded some of the victims, but the Taliban denied cooperation with ISIS in the attack, declaring in a statement to CNN that “it is completely wrong, it is propaganda of our enemy, ISIS is our enemy.”
Officials, however, noted to The New York Times that interactions between the rival terrorist groups are increasingly complex. ISIS and Taliban militants have repeatedly clashed in the eastern part of the country which serves as ISIS’s headquarters in the region, but have may found common ground in the less contentious parts of the country.
“It was a joint [ISIS] and Taliban operation,” the Afghan official in charge of administering the attacked region declared with certainty to reporters after the attack.
“One of the things we are concerned about here in Afghanistan, the reason we think that the entire world needs to be focused on Afghanistan, is the potential for convergence among the various terrorist groups in this area,” U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson said during a press conference in April.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of ISIS. We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem,” Pentagon Chief Spokesman Dana White recently declared to Voice of America.
The U.S. military’s latest report on ISIS in Afghanistan characterized the group as “a threat to security in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and a threat to U.S. and coalition forces,” adding that “ISIS-K retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers.”
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