[Provincial leaders said they are frustrated with the poor results of a recent military offensive that failed to push back Islamic State militants. With NATO air power no longer available to provide cover to Afghan troops, they said, the government is being forced to rely on poorly trained local police and even on Taliban fighters — widely viewed here as a lesser, homegrown evil — to take on the better armed and financed Islamic State forces.]
|A market in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where women wear all-covering burqas |
outside their homes. Residents are terrified that fighters from
the Islamic State are coming close to the city.
(Pam Constable /The Washington Post
JALALABAD, Afghanistan — At exactly across this nervous city and surrounding districts, a clandestine radio broadcast comes to life each night with sounds of clashing swords, drumming hoofbeats and bursts of machine-gun fire.
Already, the broadcasts have struck new fear into residents of this besieged eastern region, a rich agricultural area and strategic trade corridor. Fighters loyal to the Islamic State, known here by its Arabic acronym Daesh, are reportedly reaching as close as 12 miles from this provincial capital as they wrest control of areas where Afghan security forces largely remain confined to outposts.
‘Everyone is afraid’
The Islamic State radio broadcasts told listeners in recent days that Taliban fighters should be higher-priority targets than the government. Relations between the two Islamist militias are complex, with some Taliban members joining the Islamic State while others are fighting it. Afghans worry that their growing armed rivalry will sow chaos in the region.