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Taliban say four Islamic State members captured near Kabul

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Taliban forces raided an area west of Kabul and captured four members of the Islamic State cell, the movement’s main spokesman said on Wednesday.

The raids in the Pagaman district, just outside the Afghan capital, came after a bomb attack on a mosque claimed on Sunday by Islamic State, which has carried out several operations since the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that along with four prisoners, a huge amount of weapons and documents were found in the raid.

Earlier on Wednesday, Islamic State said on one of its Telegram channels that it had captured and beheaded a member of a Taliban militia force in the eastern city of Jalalabad, where there have been several incidents involving the group in recent days.

It was not clear whether there was a direct link between the events of Jalalabad and Pagman.

The return of a local ally of Islamic State, as the new government grapples with a potentially devastating economic crisis, has added to a growing array of problems facing the Taliban.

After the fall of the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani in August, the Taliban say they have complete control of the country.

But remnants of opposition forces, made up of former members of the Afghan army and local fighters under the banner of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, persist in Panjshir province, north of Kabul.

Mujahid and other Taliban spokesman rejected suggestions of an Islamic State threat, saying the group has no roots in Afghanistan. But Wednesday’s arrest shows it hasn’t been completely eliminated.

Taliban officials said Sunday’s bombings followed a protracted gunfight north of Kabul in which an Islamic State cell was destroyed.

Islamic State Khorasan province, which takes its name from an ancient name for the region, first emerged in Afghanistan in early 2015. It has repeatedly clashed with the Taliban over economic and ideological differences, including its rejection of the Taliban’s ideology of global jihad.

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