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Taliban denies any presence of Al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan

Taliban denies any presence of Al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers have given a statement saying that there was no evidence of Islamic State or al-Qaeda militants being in the country on Tuesday. This statement has been given days after Islamic State claimed responsibility for bomb attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad. 

Since toppling the Western-backed government in Kabul last month, the Taliban have faced pressure from the international community to renounce ties with al-Qaeda, the group behind September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States of America.

At the same time, they have had to deal with a series of attacks claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State, with which they have been in conflict for several years over a mix of economic and ideological disputes.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected accusations that al-Qaeda maintained a presence in Afghanistan and repeated pledges that there would be no attacks on third countries from Afghanistan from militant movements.

"We do not see anyone in Afghanistan who has anything to do with al-Qaeda," he told a news conference in Kabul. "We are committed to the fact that, from Afghanistan, there will not be any danger to any country."

The Taliban were ousted from power by US-led forces in 2001 for refusing to hand over al-Qaeda leaders responsible for the September 11 attacks. They returned to Kabul last month after US forces announced they were leaving and the U.S.-backed government and military collapsed.

The Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region, first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014 and later made inroads into other areas, particularly the north.

Several years ago, the US military put the group's strength at about 2,000 fighters, though some Afghan officials at the time estimated the number was higher. It battled US-led foreign forces and the Taliban, for control of smuggling routes while also apparently seeking to build a global Caliphate.

The group claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan at the weekend read more. It also claimed a suicide bomb attack at Kabul airport last month that killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside the airport gates. Mujahid denied the movement had any genuine presence in Afghanistan though he said it "invisibly carries out some cowardly attacks".

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