Kabul – The head of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in an operation on April 27 conducted jointly by Afghan and US Special Forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar, US and Afghan officials said on Sunday.
Abdul Hasib, appointed last year after his predecessor Hafiz Saeed Khan died in a US drone strike, is believed to have ordered a series of high profile attacks including one in March 8 on the main military hospital in Kabul, a statement said.
The statement, following an earlier announcement by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said Hasib directed the March 8 attack on the main Kabul military hospital by a group of militants disguised as doctors. Dozens of medical staff and patients were killed in the attack.
The local affiliate of ISIS, sometimes known as ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting Taliban and Afghan and US forces.
In April, a Pentagon spokesman said Hasib had probably been killed during the raid by US and Afghan Special Forces in Nangarhar during which two US army Rangers were killed, but prior to Sunday’s announcement there had been no confirmation.
“This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K in 2017,” top US Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement from US military headquarters in Kabul.
The US military statement said 35 ISIS militants and several high ranking commanders were killed in the April 27 raid.
US and Afghan special forces, backed by drone strikes and other air support, have waged a series of operations against ISIS-K since March, killing dozens of their militants, mainly in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.
Defeating the group remains one of the top US priorities in Afghanistan, and last month the United States dropped its largest non-nuclear device on a network of caves and tunnels used by ISIS in Nangarhar, killing 94 fighters, including four commanders.