The remote region in Nangarhar province was most famously used by al Qaeda leader bin Laden in late 2001, in a bid to hold out against the US troops and Afghan allies who toppled the Taliban regime.
Now Afghan officials say Islamic State militants have seized cave complexes in Tora Bora, after days of fighting against Taliban who had been based there.
The Taliban, however, said on Thursday that they were still in control of the cave complex, despite fighting in surrounding villages.
ISIS’s attacks near Tora Bora come two months after the United States dropped the MOAB – or the Mother of All Bombs, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the world – on another IS hideout in eastern Afghanistan, killing dozens.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid acknowledged that Islamic State forces had managed to capture several villages, but he denied that they had seized Tora Bora.
‘Those areas around Tora Bora were a Taliban stronghold, but now Daesh militants captured them during fighting,’ the police commander in the area, Shah Wali, told Reuters, using an Arabic term for Islamic State.
Mujahid told The Associated Press that more than 30 IS fighters were killed in battle. He also added that a US airstrike on Taliban positions on Wednesday that killed 11 of its fighters had benefited the Islamic State group.
The remoteness of the area makes it impossible to independently verify the contradictory claims.