ISIS teamed up with the Taliban on Saturday to launch a horrifying attack that killed over 50 civilians and Afghan police officers in northern Afghanistan.
Fox News reported that locals say that around 600 insurgents from both ISIS and the Taliban invaded the Mirza Olang village in the northern province of Sar-i-Pul. Sharif Aminyar, the district governor of Sayad, said that the victims included women, children and 18 local Afghan police officers, and most of those killed were from the ethnic Shia Hazara community. Witnesses say that the bodies of the dead were thrown off a cliff by the terrorists.
“It was joint operation from ISIS and Taliban,” Aminyar said. “The Taliban were led by Mullah Nader and [ISIS] was headed by Sher Mohammed Ghazanfar.”
This new alliance between ISIS and the Taliban could cause major problems for the already struggling U.S-backed Kabul government. However, the Taliban has denied teaming up with ISIS and has said it was an effort to “discredit” the group.
“The Afghan government and its foreign masters are making false claims that we are working with [ISIS] just to discredit us in the local community,” a Taliban commander said.
Zabiullah Amani, a spokesman for the Sar-i-Pul provinical governor, said that around 150 families that were taken hostage by the Taliban during the attack were released Tuesday night. However, dozens of others are still believed to be hostages, though it is not known how many.
“[About] 235 civilians were rescued this evening from Mirza Aolang village with the intermediation of tribal elders and [the aid] of the governor’s office,” the spokesman said.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul spoke out on Tuesday to condemn the attack.
“We extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims of these inhumane and cowardly acts,” the statement said. “We believe Afghanistan deserves peace and security not deliberate and murderous attacks that victimize innocent Afghans.”
U.S. officials have warned that ISIS and the Taliban coming together is a nightmare scenario.
“This ISIS-Taliban joint attack represents a nightmare scenario come true. The Taliban and ISIS are widely understood to be foes, not friends, because of the Taliban’s close alliance with Al Qaeda — a bitter rival of ISIS. And yet Islamist terror groups in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region are all cut from the same basic ideological cloth,” said Michael Kugelman, a south Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C.
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