Afghan forces kill Pakistan-origin intelligence head of ISIS-Khorasan

Zia-ur-Rehman was killed during an operation near Jalalabad

Afghan National Army soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint near the Bagram base in northern Kabul | AP Afghan National Army soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint near the Bagram base in northern Kabul | AP

Pakistan-origin intelligence head of terror group Islamic State's Khorasan unit (ISIL-K) has been killed by special forces near the eastern town of Jalalabad, according to the Afghan security agency.

Zia-ur-Rehman known as Assadullah Orakzai was killed during an operation near Jalalabad, close to Pakistan border, the National Directorate of Security or NDS said in a statement on Saturday.

Orakzai was the head of intelligence for Islamic State's Khorasan branch, which is active in South Asia and Central Asia.

"The Special Units of the National Directorate of Security NDS have eliminated Assadullah Orakzai, the native of Akhel Orakzai agency of Pakistan during a targeted operation," the TOLOnews reported, citing the statement.

He was involved in several deadly attacks against both military and civilian targets in Afghanistan, it said.

"Afghanistan's regional and international partners should remember that Afghanistan is a key player in the fight against terrorist and will crush terrorists' roots anywhere," the NDS said.

Last week, the 26th report of the UN's Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIS, al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities said that many former Tehreek-e-Taliban militants have joined ISIS-Khorasan (ISIL-K).

"The total number of Pakistani foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, posing a threat to both countries, is estimated at between 6,000 and 6,500, most of them with TTP," it said.

The monitoring team also estimates the current ISIL-K membership in Afghanistan at 2,200.

In April and May, the Afghan special forces conducted a series of countrywide operations that led to the arrest of the group's leaders, including Aslam Farooqi (also known as Abdullah Orakzai), the head of ISIL-K, his predecessor Zia ul-Haq (also known as Abu Omar Khorasani) and other senior members.

In March, at least 25 Sikh worshippers were killed and eight others injured when a heavily armed ISIS suicide bomber stormed his way into a prominent gurdwara in the heart of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority community in the strife-torn country.

Eighty people, including women and children, stranded inside the gurdwara were rescued by the security forces.

The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for the latest attack.

In July 2018, ISIS terrorists bombed a gathering of Sikhs and Hindus in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing 19 people and injuring 20.

Awtar Singh Khalsa, one of the country's best-known Sikh politicians then, was among those killed in the attack.