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'Taliban Saying No Links with ISIS Akin to Pak Denial on Quetta Shura': Amrullah Saleh After Kabul Blasts

Amrullah Saleh had warned the Taliban against entering Panjshir valley. (Image: Reuters/File)

Amrullah Saleh had warned the Taliban against entering Panjshir valley. (Image: Reuters/File)

In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, Saleh had earlier accused Pakistan of being at the “service” of Taliban.

Hours after twin blasts at the Kabul Airport killed 90 and left hundreds grievously wounded, the self-proclaimed “acting president” of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh said that every evidence shows that the ISIS-K (an Islamic State offshoot) “have roots” in Taliban and Haqqani network.

“The Taliban have learned well from the master,” Saleh said on Friday. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province suicide bombers attacked crowds of people gathered Thursday outside Hamid Karzai International airport hoping to flee Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The explosion also killed at least 13 US troops, with President Joe Biden vowing to hunt down those responsible.

Saleh, who has taken safe refuge in the Panjshir province that has put up a fierce resistance against the Tailban, wrote on Twitter “Every evidence we have in hand shows that IS-K cells have their roots in Talibs & Haqqani network particularly the ones operating in Kabul. Talibs denying links with ISIS is identical/similar to denial of Pak on Quetta Shura. Talibs hv leanred vry well from the master. #Kabul (SIC).”

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Quetta Shura is a militant organisation reportedly formed within the city in Balochistan soon after the fall of the previous Taliban regime in Afghanistan during late 2001.

In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, Saleh had earlier accused Pakistan of being at the “service” of Taliban. “It’s very clear that the Taliban were never under pressure; they used Pakistan as their support base. Not sanctuaries, the whole of Pakistan was at the service of Taliban,” he said.

This is not the first time the Afghan leader has attacked Pakistan. Earlier, in a tweet, Saleh said Afghanistan is “too big for Pakistan to swallow and too big for Talibs to govern”. “Don’t let your histories have a chapter on humiliation and bowing to terror groups," he wrote.

The Taliban, who are currently in control of Afghanistan after a bloody and violent siege, condemned the twin explosions and clarified that the area was being secured by the US troops.

U.S. military commanders vowed to hunt down the leaders of Islamic State after Thursday’s suicide bomb attack on Kabul airport, pledging to exact revenge on the long-time U.S. adversary for the deaths of dozens of Afghans and U.S. troops.

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay," U.S. President Joe Biden said in emotional remarks at the White House, promising that group’s actions would not stop a mass evacuation airlift.

Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) an affiliate of militants who previously battled U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq, said it had carried out the attack, which killed dozens of people - including Afghans who were trying to leave the country and at least a dozen U.S. service members.

In claiming responsibility, Islamic State said a suicide bomber “managed to reach a large gathering of translators and collaborators with the American army at ‘Baran Camp’ near Kabul Airport and detonated his explosive belt among them, killing about 60 people and wounding more than 100 others, including Taliban fighters."

A Taliban official told Reuters the group arrested an ISIS fighter at the airport a few days ago and under interrogation he told them about plans for attacks. In response, the Taliban said it postponed gatherings in public places and advised its top leaders not to gather.

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first published:August 27, 2021, 10:45 IST