Pakistan said Saturday its security forces had intercepted and killed four Islamic State operatives in a remote mountainous district near the Afghanistan border.
The provincial counterterrorism department said the slain men were linked to Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), a regional affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State group, and had intruded into the mountainous North Waziristan border district from the Afghan side.
Pakistani security forces, acting on intelligence information, conducted a “search operation” and an ensuing gunfight eventually killed the intruders, according to the statement.
ISIS-K operates out of Afghanistan and plots attacks on both sides of the border. It has intensified regional terrorist activities since the Taliban took over of the conflict-torn country last year as the United States and NATO partners withdrew troops after nearly 20 years of war.
Last week, two ISIS-K gunmen opened fire on Pakistan’s embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in an attempt to assassinate the head of the diplomatic mission.
Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani escaped unhurt, but his Pakistani security guard was shot in the chest, according to officials in Islamabad.
The Taliban claim their security forces in recent month have killed and captured dozens of ISIS-K members in Kabul and elsewhere in the country, significantly neutralizing the terror threat. But ISIS-K continues to plot high-profile bombings and gun attacks against the Taliban and members of the Afghan minority Shiite community, killing hundreds of people in the past year.
In September, an ISIS-K suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Russian embassy in Kabul, killing six people, including two members of the Russian embassy staff.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned last week that the Afghan-based terrorist group is among several top outfits posing a threat to America.
“ISIS-K is a concern and that is one that we are working to ensure that it does not become more of a concern,” Haines told the 2022 Reagan National Defense Forum in California.
"It’s largely focused on the Taliban right now and we are seeing the Taliban attempt (to combat ISIS-K). But frankly they (Taliban forces) really don’t have the capability to go after it,” she noted in her December 3 address.