NATO: U.S. Airstrike Kills Senior Islamic State Commander

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) —
(Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

NATO said Monday that a U.S. airstrike in northern Afghanistan has killed a senior Islamic State commander.

A statement said Qari Hikmatullah, a former leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was killed in the northern Faryab province by the airstrike on Friday. It said one of his bodyguards was also killed.

Hikmatullah, a native Uzbek, had also previously fought with the Taliban, before joining the local IS affiliate. The IS affiliate named Mawlavi Habibul Rahman, another Uzbek, to be his successor.

“Afghan special security forces and U.S. counterterrorism forces killed Hikmatullah and they will kill any successors,” Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in the statement.

Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban and IS, both of which have expanded their footprints in recent years. The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, shifting to a training and counterterrorism role.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, at least five civilians were killed by a remotely detonated bomb planted in a rickshaw, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the police chief of the western Herat province. Walizada said seven other civilians were wounded in Monday’s attack, which took place in a busy market.

No one immediately claimed the attack, but Walizada pointed to the Taliban, who are active in the area.

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