By Shadi Khan Saif
Nearly 100 Taliban and pro-Daesh militants have been killed in fighting in northern Afghanistan, police said Wednesday.
Sporadic fighting in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province is ongoing, Rahmatullah Turkistani, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police, told Anadolu Agency.
He said a total of 91 militants had been killed in clashes over the kidnapping of drug smugglers who were to pay the Taliban as part of an opium deal.
“The clashes erupted when group of armed Taliban attacked Daesh militants [to secure] the release of three drug smugglers who came here to pay 10 million afghanis [$14,780] to the Taliban for a deal,” Turkistani said.
Raza Ghafori, a spokesman for the provincial administration, confirmed the casualties and said the Taliban had borne the brunt of the losses.
Taliban spokesman Zabehullah Mujahid acknowledged recent clashes between the two groups but did not provide further details.
Like many parts of northern Afghanistan, Jowzjan province is not a traditional Taliban stronghold.
The militants who have pledged allegiance to Daesh are strongest in the mountainous east, where a significant number of Pakistani militants fill their ranks.
Earlier this month, the U.S. dropped a huge GBU-43/B MOAB bomb in a network of tunnels in Nangarhar province, killing at least 90 Daesh militants.
However, Daesh sympathizers associated with the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement are gaining ground in northern provinces.
Last month, U.S. military spokesman Capt. Bill Salvin said the U.S. aimed to drive Daesh out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.
He told Anadolu Agency that the U.S. believed there are up to 1,000 Daesh fighters in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.