WASHINGTON / NANGARHAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - Islamic State militants and Taliban insurgents have been fighting fiercely in eastern Kunar province for the past three days, displacing hundreds of families, Afghan officials told VOA.
The displaced families, mostly women and children, are forced to take refuge in other parts of Chapa Dara district and are reportedly living in dire conditions.
Officials say most of the displaced families are living with relatives, but some are out in the open.
"We have prepared some assistance for internally displaced families who are living in the open. The assistance will reach them soon." Abdul Ghani Musamim, spokesman for the Kunar governor, told VOA.
Musamim did not elaborate on the details of the humanitarian aid or when it would be delivered.
Local sources told VOA that the displaced families were faced with difficult living conditions, including severely hot weather.
Clashes involving the warring sides, as well as the Afghan government, have already displaced more than 400 families in neighboring Nangarhar province over the last 10 months. Local authorities told VOA that the conflict in the region had forced more than 14,000 families to flee their homes in Nangarhar over the last three years. Only 8,000 families have reportedly returned.
Clashes between the Taliban and IS are a continuing issue in eastern Afghanistan, particularly in Nangarhar, the traditional stronghold of the IS Khurasan branch that emerged in the country in 2015. The militant group has since made inroads to adjacent provinces in the eastern and northern parts of the country.
The recent clashes occurred in the Watani and Degal villages of Chapa Dara district.
Farid Dehqan, Kunar provincial police chief, told VOA that IS and Taliban militants had taken positions on high ground, targeting each other with small and heavy weaponry.
"Both sides have suffered casualties, but it is hard to say how many, due to lack of communication services in the area," Dehqan said.
Provincial officials told VOA that the clashes had not caused civilian casualties so far.
Officials said they were following the developments on the ground and were prepared to engage both sides.
"Our forces are watching the situation closely and are ready to engage when needed," Kunar Police Chief Dehqan told VOA.
Afghan defense officials told VOA that Afghan forces had carried out operations in Kunar province, killing and injuring IS and Taliban militants.
"Just yesterday [Tuesday], we have targeted a group of IS militants in the same district, killing six of them. We assure our people that we will put an end to their [IS and Taliban] threats in the area." General Mohammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, told VOA.