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An airstrike has killed the Islamic State's (IS) second-in-command in Afghanistan, intelligence officials confirmed on Tuesday.
Gul Zaman died on Monday along with five other fighters in an attack launched by the US-led coalition in eastern Nangarhar province, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement.
Zaman was formerly a member of the Afghan Taliban, and one of a growing number of commanders to defect and swear allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi. The rival jihadist groups have since clashed, as IS has captured significant territory from the Taliban in Nangarhar in recent weeks.
Taliban deputy leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour sent an open letter to Baghdadi last month in which he said his group "doesn't want to see interference in its affairs," insisting that there was room for only "one flag, one leadership, and one command" in the fight to establish Islamic rule in Afghanistan and oust the Western-backed government.
The Islamist Hezb-e-Islami party, which also wishes to see Shariah law implemented in Afghanistan, released a statement on Sunday announcing its support for IS in the fight against the Taliban, according to the local Khaama Press news agency.
Worries over IS's expanding influence and recruitment might be driving the Taliban to negotiate with the state. The two sides are now holding face-to-face meetings in Pakistan, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani told reporters on Tuesday. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for two separate suicide attacks that left one dead and at least three injured, however.
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