Officials stated Wednesday that a Taliban military leader was slain as his troops responded to an Islamic State suicide bombing and gun attack on a hospital in the Afghan capital.
According to AFP, the Taliban waged an insurgency against the deposed US-backed government for 20 years before capturing control of Kabul in August.
They now confront the challenge of restoring calm to Afghanistan, which has been rocked in recent weeks by a series of brutal assaults claimed by rivals, the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K).
According to an unnamed health ministry official, at least 19 people were killed in Tuesday’s strike on Kabul’s main military hospital.
Hamdullah Mokhlis, a member of the extremist Haqqani network and a Badri Corps special forces officer, is the most senior individual slain since the Taliban took over Kabul.
“When he got the information that Sardar Daud Khan Hospital was under attack, Maulvi Hamdullah (Mokhlis), the commander of the Kabul corps, immediately rushed to the scene,” the Taliban media official said.
“We tried to stop him but he laughed. Later we found out that he was martyred in the face-to-face fight at the hospital,” he added.
The incident began with a suicide bomber detonating his explosives near the hospital’s entrance before gunmen stormed the premises.
In response, Kabul’s new authorities dispatched special forces to the building’s roof in a chopper acquired from Afghanistan’s former US-backed government.
In a statement released on its Telegram channels, IS-K said that “five Islamic State group fighters carried out simultaneous coordinated attacks” on the site.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid downplayed the casualty toll, claiming that the attack was put down in 15 minutes due to the quick involvement.
Although both the IS and the Taliban are hardcore Sunni Islamist insurgents, they differ in religious and strategic issues.
Since the Taliban’s takeover on August 15, IS has claimed four mass fatality assaults, including suicide bombings targeting Shiite Muslim mosques. Shiite Muslims are considered heretics by the organisation.