KABUL -- Afghan intelligence special forces have killed Abdullah Orakzai, the chief justice of the Khorasan branch of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS-K).
Orakzai was the mastermind behind an ISIS-K-claimed attack on a prison in Jalalabad early this month that killed at least 29 people, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement on Tuesday (August 18).
"Orakzai had also been leading the fight in Nazian and Achin districts of Nangarhar Province," the NDS said.
Afghan officials did not say where and when the operation took place.
As the Taliban and Afghan government take steps toward intra-Afghan peace talks, pockets of ISIS-K fighters have been attempting to destabilise the tenuous political situation.
Negotiations are set to start once Kabul completes the release of about 400 Taliban prisoners as approved last week by a traditional gathering of prominent Afghans.
ISIS-K marked the beginning and end of Eid ul Adha with bloodshed, even as the Taliban and the Afghan government agreed to a three-day ceasefire during the holiday.
The terrorist group also claimed responsibility for the bombing of a bus July 29 in a Shia-dominated area in Herat city. The explosion killed four civilians and injured three others, according to local officials.
Still, ISIS-K has been struggling to survive as it continues to lose disaffected members, funding sources and the ability to recruit new fighters, and the killing of Orakzai is the latest blow to the insurgent group's leadership in Afghanistan.
Orakzai also served as deputy to Assadullah Orakzai, the ISIS-K intelligence chief who was killed earlier this month by Afghan forces and was involved in several deadly attacks on Afghan security forces, the NDS said.
ISIS attack in Kabul
The special forces operation that killed Abdullah Orakzai came after more than a dozen rockets struck Kabul on August 18, wounding at least 10 civilians as the country marked the 101st anniversary of its independence, the Interior Affairs Ministry said.
Fourteen rockets were fired from two vehicles in Kabul, Interior Affairs Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said, adding that two suspects had been arrested.
"Most of these rockets have hit civilian houses in Kabul," Arian said.
"Unfortunately, 10 civilians including four children and one woman have been wounded," he added.
ISIS claimed responsibility.
The rockets struck the capital after President Ashraf Ghani participated in an Independence Day ceremony at the presidential palace.
Witnesses said some of the rockets fell near the palace and the Defence Ministry in a heavily fortified area that also houses several embassies.
US Deputy Chief of Mission in Afghanistan Karen Decker condemned the attack.
"We condemn the rocket attacks today in Kabul. Afghans deserve to celebrate their proud history of independence peacefully. Our thoughts are with those who may be victims of this cowardly act of terrorism," she tweeted.
Ghani's swearing-in ceremony on March 10 was interrupted by rocket fire near the palace. No serious injuries were reported at the time.
Afghanistan was never a part of Britain's empire, but it became officially independent from British influence in August 1919.