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Afghan Forces Say They Captured Key IS Base

An Afghan soldier keeps watch during clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants in Kot district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, June 26, 2016.

Afghan security forces say they have captured the Islamic State (IS) group’s regional headquarters in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

IS militants have been using the so-called Welayat-e Khorasan (Khorasan province) base for the recruitment and training of fighters in the Haska Mena district of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, Afghan authorities say.

According to Afghan army sources, Haska Mena has been largely cleared of IS militants in recent assaults by the Afghan military.

“As a result of the offensive, we have cleaned many areas, including Gurgurai and Shabai villages in the district,” Afghan Army Col. Shireen Aqa told reporters.

“IS’s key bases, including a recruitment center, have been captured,” Aqa said, adding that 27 IS fighters have been killed and another 17 wounded.

The Khorasan base was considered a stronghold for the IS group in Afghanistan. The group used it as a regional center for waves of attacks in the country.

Local residents told VOA that Afghan forces have captured many areas in the district.

“Government forces have recaptured the Gurgurai high school which had been under IS control and was turned into a military post,” a local resident told VOA.

“It looks like the government forces are determined and will continue their offensive against the militants,” said the resident.

The governor’s spokesperson told VOA that provincial authorities would soon start providing assistance to people who suffered from IS brutality.

Afghan authorities last week declared the neighboring Kot district free of IS militants, saying security forces killed nearly 300 IS fighters during a month-long offensive.

IS has been active in a number of Nangarhar districts where the group has launched multiple attacks on government forces and villages.