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IS claims responsibility for attack on top Taliban governor in Afghanistan


The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the death of the governor of the province of Balkh, in the north of Afghanistan, during a suicide attack at his office.

ISLAMABAD — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack that killed the governor of Balkh province in northern Afghanistan and two other people in his office.

ISIS’s regional affiliate – known as the Islamic State in Khorasan province – is a key rival to the Taliban. The militant group has stepped up its attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021. Targets included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority.

Thursday’s attack in the town of Mazar-e-Sharif killed three people, including Governor Daud Muzmal, and injured four others, local police spokesman Mohammad Asif Waziri said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, naming the assailant as Abdul Haq al-Khorasani.

He said Khorasani broke through all security measures to enter the official building and carry out the attack.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, said Muzmal was killed “by the enemies of Islam”. He said an investigation was underway, but provided no further details.

Muzmal is one of the most senior Taliban leaders to be killed since they seized power in mid-August 2021 as US and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

In recent months, the Taliban have cracked down on ISIS. Their security forces killed several regional members, including leaders, in separate operations in February.

Taliban forces have also arrested IS members, including foreign nationals planning deadly attacks, in raids, according to Mujahid.

In January, eight IS militants were killed and nine others arrested in raids targeting key figures in Kabul and Nimroz provinces.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.