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Islamic State Commander Guns Down Own Troops in Afghan Province

A member of the Afghan security force fires at the Islamic state (IS) group fighters in Achin district of Nangarhar province, December 2015.

NANGARHAR, Afghanistan -- An Islamic State (IS) commander in Afghanistan killed 11 of his fellow fighters in the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province, Afghan provincial authorities said.

The Nangarhar governor’s spokesperson, Attaullah Khogyani, told reporters on Friday that the IS commander, Zameen Jan - also known as Abubakar – was apprehended by the rival Taliban militant group and is in its hands. Jan was injured while being taken by the Taliban, Khogyani said.

Khogyani did not discuss details of the incident.

But local residents, and a posting by the Taliban on its Facebook, said Jan took revenge on his fighters after his brother – who fought for the Taliban – was killed by IS fighters this week in a firefight.

IS has established a footprint in a number of Nangarhar districts, including Achin. Its fighters have launched multiple attacks on government security check posts. The group has also engaged in fierce clashes with rival Taliban militants in the province.

Afghan and NATO forces recently launched cleanup operations and some areas have been cleared off IS fighters. But despite the claims by Afghan authorities to have weakened the group, IS fighters are still active in some parts of the province.

Thousands of students in parts of Nangarhar have been unable to attend school because the IS group kept classrooms shuttered. Many schools in Achin remain closed.

The group recently restarted its propaganda radio broadcasts in Nangarhar province after being knocked off the air by government airstrikes earlier this year.

The Taliban and IS have become enemies as the Taliban view IS as an outside force, according to Kabul-based security analyst Wahid Muzhda. IS blames Taliban militants for being apostate as they have established connections with foreign countries through their office in Qatar, he said.

IS has been taking over areas long occupied by the Taliban but is struggling to hold them under Taliban and government pressures, Muzhda said.

“IS has lost its attraction,” he said, adding that IS “is faced with internal divisions and many commanders have already abandoned the group.”

-- Reported by the Voice of America