Afghanistan arrests regional ISIS leader

Abu Omar Khorasani was arrested in Kabul alongside group’s spy chief and public relations officer

Afghan Army soldiers walk with a captured suspected militant following an attack on the national television station in Jalalabad on May 17, 2017. EPA
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Afghan security forces arrested three senior South Asia ISIS members, including the group’s regional leader, the government said on Monday.

The militant group’s head of South Asia, Abu Omar Khorasani, was arrested in Kabul alongside the group’s spy chief and public relations officer, the Directorate of National Security and Interior Ministry said.

“NDS will continue its comprehensive and targeted operations to hunt down senior leaders of regional terrorist groups and destroy the joint hubs of these terrorist networks,” they said.

South Asia ISIS is mainly focused on a small presence in Afghanistan, largely in the north, although it has waged high-profile attacks further south in the capital.

Afghan security forces arrested eight members of a network grouping ISIS and Haqqani militants responsible for bloody attacks in the capital, including on Sikhs, it said last Wednesday.

The continuing violence underscored the challenges to securing lasting peace in Afghanistan even after the US signed a troop withdrawal agreement with the militant Taliban in February.

The Taliban, which says it opposes ISIS and has fought the group, has since held off on large-scale attacks on foreign forces or in major centres, although it has continued attacking Afghan security forces throughout the provinces.

On Monday, there were four roadside blasts in the capital which wounded four civilians, including a child, according to Kabul’s police. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Clashes in eastern Laghman province between security forces and the Taliban killed six security force members and wounded five, according to Haroon Yousufzai, a local military spokesman.

The Ministry of Defence said the Taliban also suffered heavy casualties.

The Afghan government and foreign powers including the US have been calling on the group to reduce violence, saying it is hindering progress on moving towards formal peace talks.