Afghan president claims militant network on the run in Nangarhar province.
President Ashraf Ghani has vowed to “bury” the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, a report said, after Washington granted the U.S. military legal authority to strike the jihadists in the country.
The group, which controls territory across Syria and Iraq, has made alarming inroads in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, as the country grapples with a resurgent Taliban insurgency. Islamic State jihadists claimed responsibility for a deadly gun and bomb siege targeting the Pakistani consulate in eastern Jalalabad on Jan. 13, the group’s first major attack in an Afghan city.
In recent months Afghan forces backed by U.S. drones launched a scorched earth offensive to beat back I.S. in Nangarhar, where the group’s reign of terror has displaced thousands of people.
“This could be a point of no return for Daesh—we will bury Daesh,” Ghani told BBC in an interview released Monday. “Afghans are now motivated by revenge. They [I.S.] have confronted the wrong people,” Ghani said on the sidelines of World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.
The U.S. State Department earlier this month formally designated the group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which calls itself “Khorasan Province”, as a terrorist organization. The name Khorasan refers to a historic region that includes parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and neighboring countries.
The White House this month also gave the U.S. military legal authority to target the group’s fighters in Afghanistan, the first such authorization for military action against the group outside Iraq and Syria, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The jihadists have managed to attract disaffected Taliban fighters increasingly lured by the group’s signature brutality. In a sign of their growing reach in Afghanistan, the group has taken to the airwaves with a 90-minute Pashto-language radio show called Voice of the Caliphate.
The government has said it is trying to block the broadcast, which is beamed from an undisclosed location and aimed at winning new recruits. “The militant network is on the run in Nangarhar,” Ghani told CNN in another interview in Davos. “They have committed unspeakable atrocities there… We are starting to drive them out.”