ISIS claims attack on senior Taliban governor in Afghanistan

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ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed the governor of Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province and two other people at his office.

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The regional affiliate of ISIS — known as the ISIS in Khorasan Province — is a key rival of the Taliban. The militant group has increased its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority.

Thursday’s attack in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif killed three people, including Governor Daud Muzmal, and injured four others, said local police spokesman Mohammad Asif Waziri.

ISIS late Thursday claimed responsibility for the attack, naming the assailant as Abdul Haq al-Khorasani.

It said Khorasani passed through all security measures to enter the official building and carry out the attack.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, said Muzmal was killed “by the enemies of Islam.” He said an investigation is underway, but provided no further details. Muzmal is one of the most senior Taliban officials to have been killed since they took power in mid-August 2021 as US and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

In recent months, the Taliban cracked down on ISIS. Their security forces killed several regional members, including leaders, in separate operations in February.

Taliban forces have also detained ISIS members, including foreign nationals planning deadly attacks, during raids, according to Mujahid.

In January, eight ISIS militants were killed and nine others arrested in raids targeting key figures in Kabul and Nimroz provinces.

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