The video spotlights the growing rivalry between the two groups as IS makes gradual inroads into Afghanistan, challenging the Taliban on their home turf. The video, apparently shot in Afghanistan's restive east against the backdrop of hilly grasslands enveloped with fog, describes the prisoners as 'apostates' aligned with the Taliban or the Afghan government.

But the Taliban described them as civilians. "A horrific video... (shows) kidnappers who associate themselves with Daesh (IS) brutally martyring several white-bearded tribal elders and villagers with explosives," the Taliban said in a statement yesterday.

"This offence and other such brutal actions by a few irresponsible ignorant individuals under the guise of Islam and Muslims are intolerable," it added.

The Taliban are themselves often accused of brutality during their 14-year insurgency against the US-backed Afghan government that has sent civilian casualties soaring. The group has suffered a string of recent defections to IS, with some insurgents voicing disaffection with their
longtime leader Mullah Omar, whose death was recently announced by the Taliban.

The video, more than four minutes long, appeared on jihadi social media forums on Sunday and contained commentary in Arabic and Pashto. Experts say the gravitational pull of IS, renowned among jihadists for establishing an Islamic "caliphate" across a swathe of Syria and Iraq, is only likely to grow amid a bitter power struggle within the Taliban.

Latest News from World News Desk