(photo credit: REUTERS)
KABUL - The top Islamic State commander in Afghanistan has been killed by a US air strike in the country's east, officials said on Saturday.
Hafez Saeed was the fourth high-ranking member of the militant group to be killed by US air strikes in Nangarhar province in the past week.
Saeed was the leader of Islamic State in the "so-called Khorasan state," according to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), referring to an old term to describe Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He was killed along with 30 other militants as they gathered in Achin district of Nangarhar province late on Friday, the intelligence agency said. It gave no further details of the air strike.
Saeed, a Pakistani, was among a small but increasing number of senior Taliban militants who have switched allegiance to Islamic State, the radical Islamist movement that has seized territory in Iraq and Syria and inspired attacks worldwide.
The new IS loyalists have been targets for US drone strikes in Afghanistan, which have killed three other Islamic State commanders in the same area in the past week, including Shahidullah Shahid and Gul Zaman.
A spokesman for US military in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, confirmed on Saturday that "US Forces conducted a precision strike in Achin District, Nangarhar Province, on July 10 against individuals threatening the force."
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.
Achin fell to the IS militants last month after heavy clashes with the Taliban.