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Afghan security officials inspect the scene after an overnight suicide bomb blast that targeted a wedding reception in Kabul. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The official government line in Afghanistan is that the Islamic State has been defeated — but local leaders tell a different story, the Washington Post reports.

The state of play: Talks between the U.S. and the Taliban on removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan have been ongoing for months, while the Islamic State's growing threat has not been addressed.

  • "Islamic State forces continue to terrorize villagers in areas under their control, forcibly recruiting boys and banning girls from school," per the Post.
  • Leaders "fear that some Taliban fighters will join the more ruthless Islamic State forces if Taliban leaders make a deal with U.S. officials."

By the numbers: The group is estimated to number between 2,500 and 5,000 fighters in Afghanistan, according to estimates from the U.S. military and the UN.

  • But government officials stress its Afghan branch has been reduced to attacking "soft" targets — like the suicide bombing at a Kabul wedding party that killed 63 people and wounded 182 others last week — rather than claiming territory like it did in Iraq and Syria.

Go deeper: Tom Cotton says he shares Trump's Afghanistan frustration

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

8 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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