Afghan forces announce arrest of local ISIL leader

Afghan forces announced they have arrested the leader of the country’s ISIL (ISIS) affiliate along with 19 other fighters.

Two high-ranking commanders were among those arrested in addition to the leader of the Islamic State of the Khorasan Province (ISKP), Abdullah Orokzai, also known as Aslam Farooqi, a statement by the Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Saturday.

The arrest comes after the ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack on a Sikh religious complex in the capital Kabul on Wednesday, killing 25 people.

The ISKP has been on its back foot in recent months following continued operations by US forces and separately by the Taliban.

In November, Afghan officials said the ISKP was completely defeated in Nangarhar, one of the key eastern provinces where it first sought to establish a stronghold in 2015.

In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan.

It emerged in Afghanistan in 2015, following Pakistan’s operation against armed groups in North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border, which displaced more than one million people.

Farooqi had been active in several roles within the group, both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, the statement read, adding that he took over as the leader after the death of Abu Saeed Bajawori in 2018.