Ayaz Gul and Jeff Seldin
Voice of America
Islamic State is claiming to have attacked and captured a volatile district from the rival Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.
The Syrian-based terrorist group in a statement through its Amaq News Agency says overnight clashes for the control of Chaprhar in Nangarhar province killed at least 10 Taliban fighters.
It added that three enemy fighters were captured alive while the rest fled the area. IS said both sides used light and heavy weapons in the fighting.
The Taliban has not yet commented on the fighting.
Clash Between Rivals Confirmed
A spokesman for the provincial government, Ataullah Khogyani, has confirmed the clashes between the rival militant groups.
He said 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants were killed in the fighting. He added that civilians were also caught in the cross-fire, leaving three people dead and five others wounded.
None of the claims could be verified independently.
Separately, the Taliban and IS have both taken credit for a suicide car bombing of an American military convoy they said took place Monday in the Bati Kot district of Nangarhar.
Similar Details Released
Both the groups have released almost identical details about the damages through their official means of communication, claiming the blast left at least six U.S. soldiers dead.
The U.S. military confirmed the attack on a coalition convoy, but said there were no casualties and the incident occurred in the nearby Achin district, which is believed to be IS's main regional base in Afghanistan.
“We can confirm there was a vehicle borne attack on a coalition convoy in Achin district, Nangarhar province. One vehicle was disabled, but there were no coalition casualties or injuries,” U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Salvin told VOA.
Islamic State Leader Killed
Achin is where the two American soldiers were killed during a joint raid with Afghan Special forces last week against a cave-and-tunnel complex.
Pentagon officials said they suspected IS chief Abdul Hasib was also killed along with 35 fighters in a brutal three-hour gunfight in the Mohmand Valley in the mountainous district.
But despite the apparent success of U.S. and Afghan forces in killing the leader of IS in Afghanistan, some questions remain.
The location of the IS headquarters complex is just a couple of kilometers away from an extensive IS tunnel-and-cave complex targeted two weeks ago with the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal. Officials said the ordnance killed 92 IS fighters, though as many as 800 may have been in the area.
'The Right Weapon'
“This weapon was the right weapon against this target,” General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said at the time.
“The enemy had created bunkers, tunnels and extensive minefields, and this weapon was used to reduce those obstacles so that we could continue our offensive.”
Yet despite those assertions, other officials said it was unclear whether the bomb made any significant impact on IS operations in the area.