The Afghan army killed a militant commander who had claimed allegiance to the ISIL extremist group, the ministry of defense said on Monday.

In an operation in the southern Helmand province, long a hotbed of insurgent activity, Hafiz Wahidi and nine of his men were killed, the ministry said.

Wahidi is the second militant commander with links to the militant group to be killed in Helmand.

His uncle, Adbul Rauf Khadim, was killed in a drone strike in February.

Zamen Ali, a senior Afghan army officer in southern Afghanistan, said that Wahidi took over the anti-government militia Khadim had commanded following his death.

Khadim was a former Taliban commander and Guantanamo detainee who had switched allegiance and aligned his followers with the ISIL group.

He had allegedly set up an ISIL recruiting network across southern Afghanistan. But ISIL has never acknowledged having representatives in Afghanistan, and a senior Taliban commander said that Khadim had “not formally joined ISIL and ISIL had not recognized him”.

Officials have voiced concern about ISIL’s presence in Afghanistan though the group’s real strength in the country is unknown.

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