Taliban claims to have killed five Daesh members in Balkh

File photo.

Taliban claimed Saturday its forces killed five Daesh members in three separate operations on Friday night in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, a week after an attack on the group’s provincial governor.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the operations were conducted in districts 5, 6 and eight in Mazar-e-Sharif city, targeting Daesh hideouts.

Sources in Balkh said that clashes were heard in various parts of the city on Friday night and continued until early Saturday morning.

“After the death of Daud Muzammil, Taliban’s governor in Balkh and the assignment of the new acting governor, some rifts have erupted among Taliban,” said a source from Mazar-e-Sharif. “After the appointment of the new governor from Kandahar, the Taliban has started expelling Pashtuns in Balkh, Chamtal and Sholgar districts and this has created differences among them.”

Another source in the city said that the Taliban has warned its members and the people in the areas to avoid telling anyone about the operations.

A statement by Taliban officials in Balkh says that five Daesh members were killed in a clash in the eighth district in Dasht Shor area of Mazar-e-Sharif city and six women and 12 children were arrested.

Taliban has claimed in the statement that those killed were Uzbek nationals. Daesh has not however commented on the deaths of its members in Balkh.

Balkh has witnessed deadly incidents over the past two weeks. On March 8 the Taliban said eight people were killed for “kidnapping and rebellion” in Balkh. But two days later, families in Kabu of some of the deceased said that the individuals had gone to Balkh to work and had no links with any group.

Sources said that four of those killed were former security force members. Families of the victims wanted to place the bodies of the deceased in front of the UN office in Mazar but the Taliban prevented them from doing so.

The next incident was the death of the Taliban’s governor for Balkh, Daud Muzammil, who was killed in a suicide bombing in his office. Two days later, a gathering of journalists was targeted in an explosion which left two journalists dead and 19 others wounded. Daesh claimed responsibility for both attacks.

This comes as a top US commander for US forces in the Middle East said on Thursday that Daesh in Afghanistan will be able to attack American or Western interests outside the country in less than six months “with little to no warning.”

Gen. Michael Kurilla, who leads US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Daesh’s Khorasan branch is rapidly developing the ability to conduct “external operations” in Europe and Asia.

However, he said the terrorist group will not be able to strike the US homeland in the near future.

“I think it is a higher probability overseas than it is in the homeland,” Kurilla said, acknowledging hundreds of thousands of US citizens living abroad could be in range of an attack.