Islamic State terrorists have beheaded two civilian hostages in Afghanistan’s volatile eastern province of Kunar, officials confirmed on Thursday.
Provincial governor Waheedullah Kalimzai told VOA on Thursday the incident took place two days ago in the Manogi district. He said the victims had no affiliations with the government.
Afghanistan’s branch of IS Khorasan Province has taken credit for slaying the men, accusing them of being American spies. On its global media outlet, the Syrian-based terrorist group also posted pictures of the hostages dressed up like inmates at the controversial U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay prison.
In a brief video message circulated by cell phones, according to district residents, the victims were shown confessing to their crime, saying they were gathering information on the location of Maulvi Abdul Rehman, a senior IS leader.
Rehman was killed along with two partners by a recent American drone strike in the same region where IS carried out the beheadings.
Several senior members of the terrorist group were among those killed in the August 10 airstrike, according to a U.S. military statement issued at the time. It described Rehman as the IS “emir” or chief for Kunar, saying he was a primary candidate to take over the leadership of the group’s Afghan operations.
IS also claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s suicide bombing outside a packed sports stadium in Kabul, which killed three people and wounded several others, including security forces.
Islamic State has established strongholds in parts of Kunar and in neighboring Nangarhar province, from where it is believed to be directing terrorist activities in Afghanistan, mostly targeting members of the minority Shi’ite community.
The volatile provinces border Pakistan, where authorities also complain IS is plotting deadly attacks against the country from across the border.
Afghan forces, backed by U.S. airpower, have regularly conducted major operations against the extremists in the two provinces. The counterterrorism actions have killed hundreds of militants in recent months.
But the group continues to pose a serious security challenge for the government, which is already struggling to contain Taliban advances around the country.
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb blast Thursday killed a district police chief and his bodyguard in southeastern Ghazni province, officials said. A Taliban spokesman claimed it carried out the attack.