JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Feb. 7 (UPI) — Afghani officials said Saturday a U.S. drone strike and a separate attack by the Afghan military killed at least 28 Islamic State militants in the country’s Nangarhar province.
The drone strike occurred Friday in the mountainous Achin district bordering Pakistan, killing 16 of the militants, who were identified as Pakistani, district chief Haji Ghalib told Voice of America.
In the nearby Kot district, provincial officials said Afghan security forces killed at least 12 IS militants during overnight clashes that also resulted in the deaths of two civilians caught in the crossfire.
A total of 29 IS militants were reportedly killed when a U.S. drone launched missiles at a radio station used by the militants in the Achin district last week.
In both instances, U.S. military spokesman Col. Michael Lawhorn confirmed U.S. forces launched airstrikes in the Achin district but declined to provide details for security reasons.
IS holds territory in Iraq and Syria and commands the loyalty of several affiliates in Africa and Asia. The group announced a branch in Afghanistan in January 2015, headquartered in the Achin district.
The affiliate has since clashed with Afghan security forces and rival Taliban militants.
Hundreds of IS fighters were reported to have assaulted police checkpoints in the Achin district in September.
The IS affiliate has abducted and executed hundreds of people in eastern portions of Afghanistan, and local residents have reportedly said the Taliban seemed “almost tame” in comparison.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, head of public affairs for the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan, said in August he did not think Afghan IS forces had the ability to grow and coordinate beyond the Nangarhar province, but he did say he thought they had the potential to evolve into “something more dangerous.”