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Afghan spy agency says ISIS cell busted in Kabul

Sirajuddin Haqqani (FBI/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency says it has busted a joint “terrorist” cell of the Islamic State (IS) group and the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban faction.

Five members of the cell were killed and eight others arrested when security forces stormed two hideouts of the group in Kabul and the Shakar Dara district, some 25 kilometers north of the capital, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on May 6.

It said in a statement that the cell had carried out “major attacks” in Kabul, including a March 25 assault on a Sikh temple that left at least 25 worshippers dead.

The attack was claimed by the Afghan affiliate of the IS, Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP).

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The joint IS-Haqqani cell was also behind a rocket attack during President Ashraf Ghani’s swearing-in ceremony on March 9, according to the NDS.

The intelligence agency said the members of the cell also killed several Afghan officials and fired rockets at Bagram Airfield, the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, located north of Kabul.

Afghan officials have long accused the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, of carrying out attacks claimed by or blamed on the IS.

The ISKP has been active in the war-torn country since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and U.S. forces.