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Afghanistan Says It Has Arrested IS Militant Behind Clerics' Killings

By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan September 10, 2020

KABUL -- Afghanistan's main intelligence agency says it has arrested a key member of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group's affiliate in the country who is said to be a mastermind behind the assassination of two prominent religious scholars in Kabul.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) announced on September 10 the capture of Obaidullah, also known as Akrama Madani, during a special operation.

He was described as the head of IS operations in northern and northeastern Afghanistan.

The militant group has not yet commented on the arrest.

An NDS official told RFE/RL that the arrest took place in the Afghan capital.

Video footage provided by the agency shows the alleged suspect confessing to being a former Taliban member who later joined the IS group.

In a statement, the NDS said Obaidullah in 2012 joined the militant Haqqani network, which has ties with the Taliban, before turning to IS.

It said he was planning a bombing attack on the Imam Sadiq Mosque in the northern city of Kunduz.

The man was also one of the main masterminds behind the killing of well-known religious scholars Maulvi Mohammad Ayaz Niazi and Maulvi Azizullah Mufleh in two separate attacks in Kabul in June, according to the statement.

Niazi, a prominent pro-government cleric, was killed in early June in a bomb blast at Kabul's Wazir Akbar Mosque, where he was leading Friday Prayers.

Mufleh, another prominent cleric, was killed a week later in a similar attack at the Sher Shah Soori Mosque in Kabul.

The Afghan affiliate of the IS claimed responsibility for both bombings.

The militants have been active in the war-torn country since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and U.S. forces. They have also carried out deadly attacks against pro-government religious leaders, members of religious minorities, government officials, and media workers in Afghanistan.

With reporting by TOLOnews

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan- says-it-has-arrested-is-militant- behind-clerics-killings/30831984.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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