Every time Abdullah Shirzad passes a checkpoint of Islamic State group fighters, he fears he is about to die.

The teacher begins reciting the Quran and praying the fanatics pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will let him pass unmolested. 

In the three years since jihadists loyal to Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil) first appeared in his native Nangarhar province, they have terrorised it with the imposition of their extremist ideology.

It is a creed that brands almost all the population as apostates who can be punished by death, and is so severe, locals say it has made the fearsome Taliban seem lenient in comparison.

The people of Nangarhar now find themselves caught between two…

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