Afghanistan’s national security adviser has accused Pakistan, without directly naming the country, of providing financial and logistical support to Islamic State (IS) fighters in Afghanistan.
Hanif Atmar told journalists Wednesday in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, that his country’s security forces this week arrested three IS fighters led by a militant from the central Asian country of Tajikistan, and interrogations of the men revealed they were receiving support from abroad.
“We know where they received their training, who gave them arms, who gave them money, and who supported them,” Atmar said. The majority of IS fighters in Afghanistan, he added, came from Pakistan and had identity documents that proved their citizenship. The Pakistani militants, he said, were joined by militants from Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
Afghan forces in fierce battles this week in Nangarhar’s Kot district claimed to have killed more than 135 IS fighters. Officials also confirmed the killing of at least 12 security personnel.
Atmar blamed Pakistan for providing safe havens to elements who carried out “terrorist operations” inside Afghanistan. Afghan authorities have long accused Pakistan of supporting the Afghan Taliban and giving top leaders safe refuge. However, authorities have not previously accused Pakistan of supporting IS, which opposes the Afghan Taliban.
Atmar also touted some success in countering IS and said the group, which previously had a membership in thousands, was now reduced to mere hundreds. Most of them, he said, had either been killed or had run away.
Pakistani officials deny the allegations of supporting IS but say they need to study Atmar’s statement before issuing a formal rebuttal.