Ethnic Hazaras protest to demand action to rescue people kidnapped from a bus by masked ISIS members. REUTERS/Mustafa Andaleb
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Even by Afghanistan's standards of shifting alliances, a recent meeting between ethnic Hazara elders and local commanders of the Taliban insurgents who have persecuted them for years was extraordinary.The unusual pact is a window into deepening anxiety in Afghanistan over reports of ISIS radicals gaining a foothold in a country already weary of more than a decade of war with the Taliban.Back-to-back kidnappings within a month of two groups of Hazara travelers – by men widely rumored, though far from proven, to claim fealty to ISIS – have many spooked.Unlike in Iraq or Syria, ISIS controls no Afghan territory and operational links between local fighters and the group's leadership are murky.But reports of self-proclaimed ISIS fighters have been growing since last summer. In Kandahar, the Taliban's birthplace, armed clashes between alleged ISIS fighters and local Taliban have been reported.The International Crisis Group in Kabul cited reliable reports that small groups of self-described ISIS fighters were operating in six provinces, plus unconfirmed rumors of dozens of members operating in several others.
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