KABUL (Reuters) - Islamic State on Monday released an audio tape it said was of the movement’s leader for Afghanistan, raising doubts over whether he was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Friday.
According to Afghan intelligence agency, Hafez Saeed was killed late on Friday in the Achin district of Nangarhar province late on Friday. Achin fell to fighters loyal to Saeed last month after heavy clashes with Taliban militants.
A former Taliban commander, Saeed switched allegiance to the Middle East based movement last year, raising the Islamic State’s black banner and declaring a “province of Khorasan”, covering Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The audio recording posted on Islamic State’s Arabic website could not be independently verified and it was unclear from the content when it was recorded.
Islamic State figures have been targets for U.S drone strikes, which killed three other IS commanders in the same area in a week, including Shahidullah Shahid and Gul Zaman.
Using the local Pashto language, the speaker on the tape said the IS movement’s goal to implement sharia Islamic law.
“We are ready to sacrifice our villages and homes,” he said.
He also referenced battles between Taliban fighters and the new IS offshoots in Nangarhar, accusing some elements of the Taliban of selling out to neighboring Pakistan’s powerful spy agency.
“We are defending ourselves,” he said.
After pushing out the Taliban insurgents, Islamic State fighters have in the past two months gained ground in several districts of Nangarhar province, which shares a long and porous border with lawless areas inside Pakistan.
Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore