Taliban government forces destroyed an Islamic State cell in the north of Kabul late on Sunday, a spokesperson for the movement said, after a blast outside a mosque in the Afghan capital killed and wounded a number of civilians.
There was no confirmation that the operation was directly connected with Sunday’s blast, which appeared to be the most serious attack in the Afghan capital since the withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of August.
The local affiliate of Islamic State, known as ISIS-Khorasan, has already claimed to have carried out attacks on Taliban targets and remains unreconciled to the movement which swept to victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said a special Taliban unit carried out an operation against ISIS elements in Kabul’s 17th district, in the city’s north late on Sunday.
“The ISIS base was entirely destroyed and all of the ISIS members inside were killed as a result of this decisive and successful attack,” he said in a statement on Twitter early on Monday.
Earlier, local media had reported heavy clashes in the area and residents contacted confirmed they had heard explosions and gunfire during the night.
The Taliban, who are also fighting the remnants of forces loyal to Ahmad Massoud, an opposition leader from the Panjshir region north of Kabul, have said they have almost complete control of the country.
But Sunday’s violence, and a string of smaller incidents in recent days in areas including Nangarhar on the border with Pakistan and Parwan north of Kabul, have shown that security threats have not disappeared.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad as well for a suicide attack that killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside the Kabul airport gates, desperate to secure seats on evacuation flights.