Afghan intelligence officials said Saturday that a U.S. airstrike killed the top leader of a local Islamic State affiliate and more than 30 other militants near the country's rugged eastern border with Pakistan. U.S. and NATO officials declined to immediately comment on the claim.
The strike in Nangarhar province killed Islamic State affiliate leader Hafeez Sayeed and others on Friday, said Abdul Hassib Sediqi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security. Sediqi said Afghan intelligence officials provided information to U.S. forces, who carried out the strike.
NATO officials declined to immediately comment on the claim, saying they would issue a statement later Saturday. U.S. officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Afghan government has warned the Islamic State group, rooted in Iraq and Syria, is making inroads into Afghanistan and is active in at least three provinces. The Taliban, at war with the government for nearly 14 years, have warned the Islamic State group to stay out. Both groups want Islamic rule but the Taliban do not recognize the Islamic State group's self-declared "caliphate."
On Tuesday, Afghan officials said another U.S. airstrike in Nangarhar province killed the second-highest official in the local Islamic State affiliate, Gul Zaman, and six others, including a former Pakistani Taliban spokesman.
Meanwhile Saturday, a bomb exploded near a religious school in Kandahar, killing three children and wounding six, said Samim Khpolwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Kandahar province.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban insurgents use such bombs to target Afghan soldiers and police forces, but often kill civilians in the blasts.
Associated Press writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.