The Afghan intelligence agency on Thursday said a third top Islamic State commander in Afghanistan was killed in a US drone strike in the country’s east this week.
Shahidullah Shahid, a former member of the Pakistani Taliban who defected to the Islamic State and was operating in Afghanistan, was killed along with five militants on Tuesday, an official said. A Pakistani national, he was deputy chief of the IS, also known as Daesh in Arabic.
“He wanted to expand IS operation in the country and with his death, it will have an impact on their activities,” Hasib Sediqi, spokesman for the Afghanistan National Directorate of Security, said Thursday.
He was killed in the same strike that killed IS number two in Afghanistan Gul Zaman, along with 49 militants in the eastern Achin district of Nangarhar province where Islamic State militants have recently gained ground after pushing out the Taliban. One other commander was also killed.
Shahid was a spokesman of Pakistani Taliban but last year joined IS due to internal rift in the ranks.
Bordering lawless areas inside Pakistan, Nangarhar is one of the provinces where Islamic State militants are most active.
Islamic State loyalists, mostly former Taliban disillusioned by the movement’s unsuccessful bid to return to power in Kabul, are often accompanied by dozens of foreign foreigners, hoisting black flags in several districts in the province.
A small but increasing number of mostly ex-Taliban militants are pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in Afghanistan, making them a target of deadly strikes there by the US unmanned aircraft.
Also known as Sheikh Maqbool Orakzai, he hailed from Orakzai tribal region of Pakistan and was wanted for several cases of terrorism in the country. The timing of the drone strike is significant as it came a day after Pakistan hosted talks between Afghan official and Taliban militants.