The Taliban rejected reports they used foreign fighters and cooperated with Islamic State in fighting at a remote village in northern Afghanistan this weekend where officials said dozens of local police and civilians were killed.
The Taliban, fighting to install sharia in Afghanistan and drive out foreign forces, said the claims were intended to discredit it. The movement sees Islamic State, which is fighting to create a global caliphate, as a hostile force.
However, Afghan government officials quoted villagers as saying as many as 600 fighters, who appeared to include both Taliban and Islamic State militants, had overrun Mirza Olang village in the northern province of Sar-e Pul on Saturday.
They said that many of the fighters appeared to be foreigners, speaking Turkmen, Uzbek and Punjabi, a language spoken in the Punjab region of Pakistan.
The reports appeared to offer support to claims that the Taliban have been using foreign fighters, but in a region with a patchwork of different ethnicities and national borders close by, establishing a true picture is difficult.
"The Afghan government and its foreign masters are making false claims that we are working with Daesh (Islamic State) just to discredit us in the local community," one Taliban commander said.