Abdul Hasib, the head of Islamic State in Afghanistan, was killed in an operation on 27 April conducted jointly by Afghan and US Special Forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar, US and Afghan officials have said.
Hasib, appointed last year after his predecessor Hafiz Saeed Khan died in a US drone strike, is believed to have ordered a series of high profile attacks including one in on the main military hospital in Kabul in March.
Last month, a Pentagon spokesman had said that Hasib was "probably" killed in a raid by US and Afghan special forces in Nangarhar, in which two US Army Rangers were killed, but prior to Sunday's announcement, there had been no confirmation.
Analysts described him as "obscure", but authorities ascribed responsibility to him for assaults in Kabul, including the savage attack on a military hospital, when assailants stabbed bedridden patients and threw grenades into crowded wards.
"He had ordered the attack on the hospital," a presidential statement said, adding that Kabul will fight IS and other extremist groups "until they are annihilated".
"This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat IS in 2017," the top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson said in a statement from US military headquarters in Kabul.
"I applaud the tremendous skill and courage shown by our Afghan partners. This fight strengthens our resolve to rid Afghanistan of these terrorists and bring peace and stability to this great country. Any Islamic State member that comes to Afghanistan will meet the same fate," he further added.
Elaborating on the operation, Nato spokesman Captain Bill Salvin was quoted as saying, "There were women and children in the compound" where Hasib was killed. "The assault force was able to safely separate the women and children from the combatants and there were no civilian casualties.
The statement, following an earlier announcement by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, said Hasib directed the 8 March attack on the main Kabul military hospital.
As this report in BBC mentioned, the hospital attack marked a change in approach by the IS in Afghanistan — it's the first time they have engaged directly with security forces in the capital. Previously, they used to target civilian gatherings, mainly of Shia Muslims, as well as causing carnage at the Supreme Court last month.
But at the hospital, they used an approach more commonly associated with the Taliban — blowing the gates open to allow gunmen to enter. This suggests they now have the resources and the military training to expand their attacks.
It said he also ordered fighters to behead local elders in front of their families and kidnap women and girls to force them to marry IS fighters.
The 'Mother Of All Bombs', that the US dropped on Afghanistan in April, hit very close to the hideout location Hasib was at. The bomb, which was the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal, had targeted the IS' top leadership. It killed 94 IS officials, destroyed three underground tunnels used by the terror group, and also weapons and ammunition in control of the terror group. Nangahar province spokesman Attaullah Khogiani said four commanders of IS were part of the death toll.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: May 09, 2017 10:39 am | Updated Date: May 09, 2017 10:39 am