The Taliban arrested four ISIS members north of the Afghan capital, the group’s chief spokesman said Wednesday, and witnesses said two Taliban fighters were shot dead in the northeast, raising the specter of all-out conflict.
Zabihullah Mujahid said an operation was carried out Tuesday night by special unit forces in Kabul province and Taliban forces also seized documents and weapons. He provided no additional details.
Two Taliban members were shot and killed and three civilians wounded Wednesday when unknown gunmen opened fire on a Taliban patrol in a vegetable market in the northeastern city of Jalalabad, two witnesses said. A hospital official later said the local health facility received two dead bodies and two wounded men. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
ISIS did not claim the market incident, but they are widely suspected and have carried out similar shooting attacks before in the area. Jalalabad in particular has emerged as a flashpoint in the rivalry between the Taliban and ISIS, with numerous attacks taking place there since the Taliban takeover on Aug. 15.
The Taliban leadership has been grappling with a growing security threat from ISIS since assuming power. The ISIS local affiliate, the ISIS-K, has ramped up attacks, including two deadly bombings in the capital in the last month.
Recently, ISIS claimed it targeted Tuesday night a vehicle carrying Taliban members with an explosive device in District 1 in Kunar province, northeast of the capital, killing and wounding those onboard. It said a Taliban reinforcement patrol rushed to the area to help but IS fighters clashed with them, killing and wounding “many.”
ISIS re-emerged in Afghanistan in 2020 after being weakened by a heavy US bombing campaign directed against them in the eastern part of the country in 2019. The group claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing at Kabul’s Eid Gah Mosque which killed five civilians. It has also claimed responsibility for the horrific bombing on Aug. 26 that killed more than 169 Afghans and 13 US military personnel outside the Kabul airport.
The Taliban have since launched many raids to root out ISIS cells.