ISIS fighters in Afghanistan reportedly had their brutality visited on their own heads -- literally.
The beheadings were part of an ongoing conflict between Islamic State forces and a local warlord's militia in Afghanistan, an Afghan official told the Daily Mail. After four members of the militia group were captured and beheaded, the group responded by beheading four out of five ISIS fighters it had taken prisoner after a firefight on Dec. 26 in Nangarhar, an eastern border province in the war-torn country.
The militia group is loyal to deputy speaker of parliament Zahir Qadir. Personal militias are an ongoing problem in Afghanistan and threaten the sovereignty of the central government.
In response to the beheadings of their comrades, Qadir's men placed the heads of the slain ISIS fighters on stones lining a main road in Achin district, according to Ghalib Mujahib, governor of Achin.
"We condemn the act of [ISIS], and of course we condemn the act of Qadir's men here," Mujahib told the Mail. "It is not acceptable for either side to act like this."
The Dec. 26 gun battle and subsequent beheadings are only the latest in an ongoing conflict in Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. After ISIS fighters began killing civilians in the province and closed down dozens of local schools, the Afghan central government launched an offensive in September, killing some 80 ISIS members, Vice News reported.
ISIS has been recruiting fighters and expanding its influence in Afghanistan after establishing a foothold there, according to a Dec. 15 report by the Department of Defense. The report, titled "Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan," said ISIS was targeting former Taliban fighters and veterans who had become disenfranchised with the Islamic fundamentalist group.
“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province has progressed from its initial exploratory phase to a point where they are openly fighting the Taliban for the establishment of a safe haven, and are becoming more operationally active,” the report reads.
Meanwhile, "the Taliban have remained active in their traditional strongholds" in southern and eastern Afghan provinces, and the influence of the central government waned in 2015 as both ISIS and the Taliban directed attacks on government personnel and property.