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KABUL, Afghanistan — Militants aligned with ISIS launched a brutal offensive in Afghanistan alongside Taliban fighters that has left more than 100 people dead, local officials said Friday. Insurgents carrying the black flag of ISIS captured several villages in Ghazni province, according to Deputy Governor Ali Ahmad Ahmadi and Deputy Police Chief Gen. Asadullah Ensafi. Fifteen family members of local police officers were beheaded and at least 60 homes were set ablaze, Ahmadi said.
Ensafi later told NBC News that five Afghan helicopters had managed to drop Afghan special forces personnel to reinforce units already defending the area. He said the immediate threat to district's center had been nullified. Members of the Taliban from different regions of the country were involved in the offensive, officials said. According to Ahmadi, the drive was being led by masked men wearing camouflage who carried the black flag of the ISIS and openly called themselves soldiers of "Daesh" — another name for ISIS. The officials said those militants did not speak any local languages. Reinforcements from the Afghan national army and provincial police had been stopped from reaching the area by Taliban ambushes.
Dr. Gareth Price, an Afghanistan expert at London's Chatham House think tank, said it was possible that one section of the Taliban has decided to re-brand and copy the tactics of ISIS. "Given the factionalizing that seems to be happening in the Pakistani Taliban, it's not surprising that a group has decided to show allegiance to the Islamic State," he added.
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