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Afghan Forces Capture Key Figures From Islamic State's South Asia Branch

Afghan security personnel escort arresting alleged Taliban and Islamic State militants during an operation in Jalalabad Province in October 2019

KABUL -- Afghan security forces say they have captured three senior members of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group's South Asia branch -- including the group's regional leader for South Asia, Abu Omar Khorasani.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry announced on May 11 that Khorasani was arrested during a recent operation in Kabul.

In a joint statement, Afghanistan's General Directorate of National Security (NDS) and the Interior Ministry said security forces also arrested the extremist group's spy chief and its public relations chief.

The statement did not specify the date of their arrests.

But a private Afghan television channel, ToloNews, quoted an unnamed NDS official as saying all three were captured after information about their whereabouts was provided by four previously detained IS militants.

The South Asia wing of IS is mainly focused on Afghanistan and has carried out a series of high-profile terrorist attacks. Several leaders of the branch also have been captured in recent months.

Afghan security forces on May 6 killed five IS militants and arrested eight others during a raid in the Shakar Dara district on the north side of Kabul.

Afghan authorities say those detained on May 6 included members of a Kabul cell grouping together IS militants and fighters from the Haqqani network, an offshoot of the Taliban.

The NDS attributes several recent terrorist attacks in Kabul to the group, including a March 25 assault on a Sikh temple that killed at least 25 worshippers.

On April 4, Afghan security forces in Kandahar captured the leader of the Khorasan branch of IS in Afghanistan, Abdullah Orakzai, along with several other militants.

With additional reporting by Reuters and ToloNews
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