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Taliban commander among dead in suspected ISKP attack in northern Afghanistan

Suspected Islamic State militants attacked Taliban fighters attending a funeral in northern Afghanistan and killed at least 15 in the latest violence between the rival groups, officials said.

Another five Taliban were wounded in the attack on a house in Sayad district in Sar-e Pol province on Tuesday, July 17, the provincial police chief Abdul Qayum Baqizoi told AFP.

A Taliban commander was among the dead, Baqizoi added.

The attackers, who were armed with guns and grenades, fled the area.

The Sar-e Pol governor’s spokesperson Zabiullah Amani confirmed the death toll.

“Daesh and Taliban have been fighting each other for more than two months in [neighboring] Jowzjan and Sar-e Pol, killing hundreds on both sides,” Amani said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Police Chief Abdul Qayyom Baqizoy said 15 civilians and seven Taliban were killed in the bombing, which happened around 2:30 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) in the Ajeram village, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

The Taliban has not commented on the attack. Islamic State – Khorasan Province did not immediately claim responsibility.

ISKP first emerged in Afghanistan in 2014, overrunning large parts of the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar near the Pakistan border, where it engaged in a turf war with the Taliban.

The group has since expanded north and has been battling the Taliban as well as Afghan and U.S. forces.

While the Taliban is Afghanistan’s largest militant group, ISIS has a small but potent presence in the country and has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to carry out devastating attacks in urban areas, including Kabul.

An ISKP car bomb attack killed at least five police officers in an attack on the interior ministry headquarters in May during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Less than two weeks later, ISKP claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the headquarters of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development as employees were leaving their offices early for the holiday.

Kabul accounted for 16 percent of all civilian casualties last year, when 1,831 civilians were killed or wounded nationwide, according to the United Nations.

With reporting from AFP


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