Islamic State (IS) militants kidnapped and killed seven people, including three women, in the southern province of Zabul, a police official said on Sunday, amid heavy fighting in the region between the group and Taliban insurgents.

Groups associated with the IS have made growing inroads in Afghanistan in recent years, attracting fighters and support away from disenchanted members of the Taliban. They have been battling government forces and the Taliban in a challenge for supremacy of the Islamist insurgency, and its rise has caused alarm outside Afghanistan, with U.S. commanders citing the movement as a reason to delay troop withdrawals.

Ghulam Jilani Farahi, a deputy police chief in Zabul, said police found the victims, who were abducted on October 1 from Rasani village in the Gelan district of the neighbouring Ghazni province.

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