KABUL, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Militants loyal to the Islamic State (IS) outfit surfaced in mountainous areas of eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province along the border with Pakistan's tribal areas in early 2015 and since then have been fighting tooth and nail to expand foothold in the eastern region and beyond of the war-battered country.
The emergence of IS in the relatively troubled Nangarhar province has added to the burden of Afghan national security forces who have already been fighting a complex war against Taliban militants.
Although the Afghan security forces have the U.S. military's drone support in fighting back the IS insurgents, the terror group has yet to be eliminated.
In the latest drone strikes against IS fighters in the eastern Nangarhar province, 17 militants loyal to the extremist group have been confirmed dead.
Up to 17 insurgents loyal to the Islamic State (IS) were killed after unmanned planes attacked the militants' hideouts in Achin and Mamandari districts of the eastern Nangarhar province early Wednesday, provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashriqwal told reporters.
The IS militants, according to media reports, have expanded its grip to Nangarhar's neighboring Nuristan and Kunar provinces.
According to local media reports, 15 militant groups including IS, al-Qaida and the radical Islamic group of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba have been operating in Kunar province and adjoining areas where the government's grip is frail.
The governor of eastern Kunar province Wahidullah Kalimzai, according to the leading Afghan private television channel Tolo, has confirmed the presence of "15 terrorist organizations including IS, al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba" in the mountainous Kunar province bordering Pakistan.
Earlier, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, according to local media reports, said 20 regional and international terrorist organizations fighting against Afghan security forces in Afghanistan to destabilize the country and the region.