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Afghan Officials Say Militants Have Killed Hostages


Ghor province, Afghanistan

Officials in Afghanistan said Wednesday that gunmen killed more than 25 people in a rural area in the central province of Ghor. The victims were among a group of 33 people seized by the gunman.

Local officials, including the governor of Ghor, said the attackers are former Taliban fighters now loyal to the Islamic State (IS) militant group. The officials expressed special concern because this is the first report of IS activity in the area. They also said they believe the attack was in answer to the killing of two local commanders of the militants.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.

A Ghor government spokesman told VOA that the victims were collecting wood for winter when IS gunmen captured them.

He said the gunmen executed the hostages while Afghan security forces were trying to rescue them with the help of local civilians.

Amnesty International called it “a horrendous crime.” They demanded Afghan officials carry out an independent investigation into the violence.

Pakistan police killed

Hours earlier, Islamic State said it was responsible for a suicide attack in neighboring Pakistan.

The raid at the police training center killed at least 62 people. More than 120 others were wounded. The attack took place in Quetta, the capitol of Baluchistan province.

The IS launched its extremist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan in early 2015 after declaring the area the ‘Islamic State of Khorasan’, or IS-K.

U.S. general says IS is "very focused."

The highest U.S. military official in Afghanistan says that IS is “very focused” on trying to establish its Khorasan caliphate in the region. A caliphate is an area ruled by an Islamic political and religious leader.

General John Nicholson said former militants of the Pakistani Taliban are also helping the group. The U.S. general told NBC earlier this week that foreign fighters, particularly Uzbeks, have joined the fight. Pakistani officials said Uzbek militants were involved in Monday night's attack in Quetta.

General Nicholson said the U.S. military is helping local security forces drive the militants out of the country. Nicolson said the joint operations have killed or wounded many IS fighters in recent months. Among the dead is IS regional chief, Hafiz Saeed Khan, a former Pakistani militant commander.

I’m Anne Ball.

This story was written by Ayaz Gul for VOA News. Anne Ball adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

horrendous - adj. very bad or unpleasant

circumstances – n. a condition or fact that affects a situation

casualties - n. a person who is hurt or killed during an accident, or war

focus – v. to direct your attention or effort at something specific

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