ISLAMABAD - A leading group of clerics on Friday condemned the Islamic State organisation, amid concerns the hardline jihadists could gain a foothold in the militant-plagued nuclear state.

The Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) said the IS group, which has declared a “caliphate” in areas it controls in Iraq and Syria, was violating Islamic teachings.

The jihadist movement, also known as ISIS, has committed widespread atrocities in territory under its rule, including mass executions, beheadings and forcing women and girls into slavery.

“Islam and Muslims cannot support the killing of innocent people and destruction of their properties at the hands of the ISIS,” the PUC said in a statement. “The PUC... appeals to people and youth in Islamic countries to not cooperate with any violent group whose teachings or actions are against the teachings of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”

The PUC call comes as fears grow in Pakistan that the violent call of the IS group could find recruits among the country’s myriad of militant groups.

Pakistan has suffered years of bloody attacks at the hands of homegrown militants, many linked to Al-Qaeda. Leaflets supporting the IS organisation have been seen in some parts of the northwest, the heartland of groups like the Pakistani Taliban.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) vowed earlier this month to send fighters to support IS jihadists but stopped short of pledging allegiance to the organisation’s leader.

PUC chief Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, in a separate statement Friday, blamed “heinous atrocities” committed by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the discrimination against people on sectarian grounds in Iraq for creating environment that allowed the IS group to flourish.

“These are the factors due to which organisations such as ISIS are formed and gain popularity among the public,” Ashrafi said.