US Drone Strike Kills at Least 17 IS Militants in Afghanistan

A suspected US drone strike Friday killed at least 17 Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan shortly after the extremist group beheaded seven people in the same area, said officials and residents.

The violence occurred in the remote Achin district of Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. The volatile district is where IS is believed to have setup its strong bases.

Ataullah Khogyani, a provincial governor spokesman, told VOA that six Taliban insurgents were among those beheaded by Daesh, the Arabic acronym for IS. He added that while the executions were being carried out missiles fired by an unmanned US aircraft hit the area, killing 17 Daesh fighters, including several key commanders.

Sources tell VOA the beheadings took place in the afternoon shortly after Friday prayers in front of local villagers and a member of the Afghan National Army was also among the victims. Khogyani, however, would not confirm it.

The Taliban this week launched attacks against IS bases in two districts around Achin, killing dozens of fighters of the rival group and evicting them from these areas, according to local officials.

This is not the first time IS has beheaded people in Afghanistan after establishing  its footprint in the country.

On Wednesday, Afghan Acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai told VOA that the government has formed a special force to counter Islamic State in eastern parts of the country.

IS has been active in several districts of Nangarhar, where it launched multiple attacks on government facilities.

IS militants have also been engaged in fierce fighting with the rival Taliban in the province. Dozens of insurgents reportedly have been killed in the fighting between the two militant groups.