The Islamic State has claimed that its leader for the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, Hafiz Saeed, was not killed in a US drone strike last week.
The terror group released an audio message on Monday that it said features the voice of Saeed. The authenticity of the message had not been independently confirmed and Afghan officials had not commented on the issue, Khaama Press reported.
Abdul Rahim Muslimdost, a central leader of the IS, too told Pajhwok Afghan News that Saeed is alive.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, had said Saeed was killed with 30 other militants in a drone strike in the eastern Nangarhar province on Friday night.
Saeed was a Pakistani militant who switched allegiance to the IS last year. He was named the head of the terror group’s wing for Khorasan, a historic region that comprises parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Though the IS denied Saeed's death, it confirmed that Shahidullah Shahid, a former spokesman of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and senior leader Gul Zaman were killed in the drone attack.
Shahid was one of the senior members of the TTP who joined the IS when it first emerged in the region.
This is the first time the IS has confirmed the death of its top leaders in Afghanistan.
Friday's drone strike was carried out by US-led coalition forces on the basis of intelligence provided by the NDS.
Nangarhar province recently witnessed a surge in fighting between the IS and Afghan Taliban, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.