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Afghan Forces Declare Eastern District Free of IS

Afghan police walk past Islamic State militant flags on a wall, after an operation in the Kot district of Nangarhar province, Aug. 1, 2016.

Authorities in Afghanistan have declared a far eastern border district free of Islamic State militants, saying security forces killed nearly 300 IS militants during a month-long offensive.

Provincial governor Salim Khan Kundozi made the announcement Monday during a visit to the Kot district in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. Top military commanders accompanied him.

Kot district, Nangahar province, Afghanistan
Kot district, Nangahar province, Afghanistan

Afghan security forces are now moving into neighboring districts "to flush out Daesh terrorists from there," Kundozi said, using the Arabic acronym for the Syrian-based terrorist organization.

Authorities removed all IS-related symbols from the district and raised Afghanistan's national flag. But despite official assurances, residents say they fear IS militants may return to the area, and want the government to deploy effective security measures to prevent them.

Kabul attack

Afghan authorities, meanwhile, say that at least one police officer was killed and four others wounded when a group of Taliban militants staged a coordinated assault early Monday on a Kabul hotel frequented by foreigners.

A security guard stands amid the damage of a truck bombing, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
A security guard stands amid the damage of a truck bombing, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

An Interior Ministry statement says that, first, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed truck to breach the perimeter wall of the Northgate Hotel at around 1:30 a.m. Three gunmen then stormed the facility and started shooting.

Residents in the Afghan capital say the blast shook the city. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said the attack left a large number of people dead.

But the Islamist insurgency often exaggerates casualty numbers in such attacks.

Afghan security forces waited until dawn before engaging the attackers and killing them in a gunfight that last several hours.

Separately, fighting raged Monday between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents in northern and southern parts of Afghanistan.

The Taliban assaulted the Nad Ali district in restive Helmand province a day earlier. Local officials say at least 20 policemen and soldiers have died in the fighting.