JALALABAD, AFGHANISTAN - Several hundred local Afghans took to the streets of the eastern city of Jalalabad Wednesday, demanding that Kabul step up military operations against Islamic State (IS) and Taliban militants in Nangarhar province.
Protesters chanted slogans against IS and the Taliban and accused the government of not doing enough to defeat the groups.
“We demand new operations against the Taliban and IS in [our] districts,” protest organizer Zabihullah Zmaray, a member of the Nangarhar provincial council, told VOA.
“We can no longer tolerate beheadings,” one protester told VOA. “Be it IS or Taliban, we want to oust them from this soil,” he added.
A variety of forces including the Afghan military, provincial police, and the Taliban have alternatively been involved in battles against IS.
The Afghan government says it has stepped up airstrikes this week against IS positions in Achin district. They said that around 100 IS fighters have been killed during Afghan security operations in Nangarhar in the last week. On Monday, an Afghan military commanders told VOA that 68 IS fighters had been killed in a 24-hour period.
Provincial officials say their ongoing military operations against IS will continue until the mountainous areas are cleared of the fighters.
IS fighters are active in various districts of Nangarhar. The militant group is reportedly holding up to 300 prisoners at eight jails in the rugged terrains of the province near the Pakistan border, Afghan officials told VOA.
Islamic State recently launched an FM radio channel in Nangarhar province, broadcasting at least one hour a day to attract young Afghan men disillusioned by dim job prospects.