Fighters pledging allegiance to Islamic State have taken hold of swathes of territory in Afghanistan, from rival Taliban insurgents, said witnesses and officials.
Hundreds of fighters loyal to the Islamic State, pushed out the Taliban and set fire to opium fields that helped fund Taliban’s campaign to overthrow the Afghan government, said witnesses in Nangarhar province.
“They came in white pickup trucks mounted with machine guns and fought the Taliban. The defeated Taliban fighters fled,” said Haji Abdul Jan, a tribal elder, from Achin district.
They also meted out directives supposedly from Middle East-based Cchief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, although it is not clear whether he issued them only for Afghanistan.
“Unlike the Taliban, the Islamic State fighters don’t force villagers to feed and house them. Instead, they have lots of cash in their pockets and spend it on food and luring young villagers to join them.”
Islamic State loyalists, mostly Taliban members who felt let down by the movement’s to return to power in Kabul, are accompanying the dozens of foreign fighters, witnesses said.
The Islamic State’s black flag has been unfurled in some areas, and foreign fighters preach in mosques through translators. Though the identity of the foreign fighters unknown, it is a known fact that hundreds of militants hide along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Meanwhile, an Islamic State claimed car bombing, in San’a, late 29 June night, injured 38 people, near a military hospital in al-Sayyah area of the Yemeni capital, according to security officials. The bombing is the latest in a series of attacks targeting Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels.
Islamic State’s Yemen affiliate, San’a Province, claimed responsibility for the blast in a Twitter post, according to SITE Intelligence Group. The Sunni militant group described the bombing as an assault on Shiite “polytheists.”
It was the third bombing in Yemen, in two weeks. Four car bombs hit Houthi targets in San’a on June 17, killing several people and wounding dozens.