USA air strike targets Pakistan Taliban chief in Afghanistan

Marsha Scott
June 16, 2018

A USA drone strike in north-east Afghanistan has killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah, according to Pakistani and Afghan officials.

In March, the United States offered a $5-million reward for information on Fazlullah, saying his group "demonstrated a close alliance with Al-Qaeda" and gave explosives training to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber.

-Afghan airstrike in Afghanistan, a senior Afghan Defence Ministry official said on Friday.

Still, the recent cease-fire announcement by Afghanistan's Taliban is being at least partially credited to Pakistan, which some observers say has been pressing the leadership to accept President Ghani's recent peace overtures.

A spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Friday would only confirm that a "senior leader of a designated terror organization" had been targeted in a drone strike in Afghanistan's Kunar province.

Fazlullah was reportedly travelling in a vehicle along with four other commanders when they were targeted by a drone around 11pm PST.

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He was best known for directing the shooting of Yousafzai, an outspoken activist for girls' education, as she sat on a school bus in Swat in 2012, when she was 15. Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had recently suggested to authorities here to negotiate with the U.S. the release of Shakeel Afridi, the jailed Pakistani surgeon who had helped Central Intelligence Agency in tracking down Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, in exchange for capture or elimination of Fazlullah.

But Fazlullah's death would be welcome news in Pakistan, where the government has repeatedly complained that Fazlullah and his Tehrik-e-Taliban had found safe havens across the border in Afghanistan.

Washington and Kabul accuse Pakistan of harbouring Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, something Islamabad denies.

Mohammad Akhtar, whose 12-year-old son Fahad Khan died in the 2014 massacre, said he had been waiting for confirmation of "terrorist Fazlullah's" death. A member of the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters by telephone on Friday the group was trying to get word from Afghanistan, where most of the Pakistani Taliban fighters are now based. He said the US drone targeted a vehicle in which Fazlullah and the other militants were riding.

"Since then we are making all-out efforts to check if it's true, but most of our senior colleagues are out of access".

Fazlullah reportedly left the center around 10:45 p.m., but as soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a USA drone struck the auto, killing Fazlullah and his guards.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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