Afghan officials deny a statement by Tajik authorities that the attackers crossed into Tajikistan from Afghanistan’s Kunduz province as unfounded.

According to Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta, official sources within the Afghan power-wielding structures say the stretch of the Afghan-Tajik border in the Qala-e Zal district of Kunduz province from which the Islamic State (IS) terror group militants allegedly crossed into Tajikistan is well guarded both from Afghan and Tajik  side.

“Our services would spot and prevent an attempt of illegally crossing the border,” one of representatives of Afghan power-wielding structures told Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview.  

One of senior representatives of Afghan power-wielding structures was quoted as saying, “Traces of this group of militants should be sought outside Afghanistan.”  

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on November 6 that Mohammad Nabi Gochli, the police commander in the Qala-e Zal district noted that the border in that area is porous there because it is almost entirely controlled by the Taliban.

Mr. Gochli said that he had learned that IS militants fighters had arrived in his district roughly two weeks ago, and that they had inhabited a cluster of villages along the Amu Darya, a river that runs almost parallel to the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.

The governor of Qala-e-Zal, Ahmad Fahim Qarluq, said on Wednesday that an Islamic State commander had arrived in the district about a month ago from the southeastern province of Nangarhar and had been recruiting fighters.

As told by Mr. Qarluq and Mr. Gochli, the militants spreading from southeastern Afghanistan and eventually into Tajikistan highlights what could be described as the slow but steady growth of the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State Khorasan.

The group’s affiliate in Afghanistan reportedly established a foothold in Nangarhar Province in 2015, and it has slowly spread elsewhere in the country, including to Kabul, the capital.  Estimated to have between 2,500 and 3,000 fighters, many of whom are from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the group has established itself as an enduring threat in Afghanistan despite repeated American-backed military offensives and hundreds of airstrikes.