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United States claims it is committed to destroying IS

091130-F-9171L-362 U.S. Army soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and Afghan National Army soldiers conduct a combined patrol in the village of Shabila Kalan, Zabul, Afghanistan, on Nov. 30, 2009. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

WASHINGTON: The United States claimed it was committed to destroying the so-called Islamic State group, which bombed a voter registration centre in Kabul on Sunday, killing 57 people and injuring 119.

“The United States, along with our Afghan and international partners, is committed to destroying ISIS in Afghanistan, which has claimed responsibility for this vicious attack,” said US Acting Secretary of State John J. Sullivan. “We stand with the people and government of Afghanistan in their fight against terrorism.”

The group — known as the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) in the region — is active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The United States declared IS-K a foreign terrorist organisation on Sept 29, 2015, but Pakistan is more focused on IS-K, as most of its activists come from anti-Pakistan militant groups, such as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

“This senseless violence targeting innocent civilians exercising their fundamental democratic rights exposes the savagery and inhumanity of terrorists,” said Sullivan while condemning Sunday’s suicide attack.

Last year, Gen John Nicholson, who commands US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that TTP provided the core fighting group for IS-K.

He also claimed that TTP militants from Pakistan’s Orakzai tribal agency joined IS-K en masse.

Almost all these militants consider Pakistan their main enemy and have carried out dozens of attacks inside Pakistan, killing hundreds of civilians, including children at schools.

IS-K has set up bases inside Afghanistan and Islamabad claims that they receive assistance from both India and Afghanistan for attacking targets inside Pakistan.

In his statement to the Senate panel, Gen Nicholson also acknowledged that former TTP members in IS-K were fighting the Pakistani state.

“The majority of the fighters in the IS right now came from the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban, and joined the banner of the IS,” he said.

Although IS-K is a US-designated a terrorist group, until recently, the United States did not consider it a major threat to its interests in Afghanistan, but a sudden increase in IS-K activities, particularly its attacks on Afghanistan government targets, seem to have persuaded Washington to renew its pledge to eliminating IS-K.