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110 killed as Taliban-IS clashes rage in Zabul

At least 110 militants have been killed and several others wounded during ongoing clashes between Taliban and Islamic State (IS) — also known as Daesh — in southern Zabul province, local officials said on Monday.

Gunbattles between supporters of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and dissent a dissident commander of the group — Mullah Mansoor Dadullah who is backed by Uzbek Daesh fighters — broke out three days ago in Arghandab district.

Zabul police chief, Col. Ghulam Jilani Farahi, told Pajhwok Afghan News the ongoing fighting had spread to Khak-i-Afghan and Dai Chopan districts. Tens of militants have suffered casualties while a number of Daesh fighters have joined Taliban.

Arghandab district chief, Haji Mohmand Nasratyar, confirmed the clashes were ongoing in Sudani mountains of Khak-i-Afghan district. He said 25 fighters loyal to Akhtar Mansoor and 85 to Mansoor Dadullah, supported by Uzbek rebels, have been killed.

Another 30 militants, supporting Akhtar Mansoor, and several others from the rival side, had been wounded, he said, adding notorious Uzbek commander has joined forces with Akhtar Mansoor along with his accomplices.

Nasratyar said Mansoor’s loyalists had captured several areas controlled by Uzbeks and Dadullah’s loyalists. They have also set up security posts there.

A source close to Mansoor told Pajhwok Afghan News only five of their fighters were killed and 11 others wounded. He claimed the Uzbek rebels had been surrounded by the Taliban and the bodies of 35 of them were still lying at the scene.

A large base of Dadullah’s supporters had also been captured, the source added.

On the other hand, Qari Hamza, a spokesman for Dadullah, said a dreaded commander, Habib Bashi, had pledged allegiance to them. Iran was behind the coalition between the illegal commander and the Taliban militants.

Habib Bashi had sent his militias from the Jaghori district of southern Ghazni province to Khak-i-Afghan and Arghandab towns, where they were conducting attacks, Hamza alleged.

He said five women and eight children had also been killed during the clashes, in which heavy casualties were inflicted on Mansoor’s loyalists.

A day earlier, Uzbek members of the Daesh outfit had killed eight civilians, including three women from Ghazni province. The victims had been kidnapped before being put to death.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for Akhtar Mansoor-led faction, said Qari Yousuf Ahmadi was supposed to comment on the situation in Zabul. But Ahmadi has spoken nothing so far about the fighting. (PAN)

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