Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Leader of Pakistani Taliban killed by US drone strike, Afghanistan says

Leader of Pakistani Taliban killed by US drone strike, Afghanistan says

The spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, confirmed that the military had carried out a drone strike on Wednesday in Kunar.

Fazlullah's group - Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Urdu - was behind the massacre of more than 150 people at a Peshawar school in December 2014, and nine dead in another attack in the same city last December.

He is also believed to have ordered the 2012 shooting of then-15-year-old Yousafzai over her advocacy of girls' education.

This year, Malala Yousafzai - now a Nobel Peace Prize victor - returned to Pakistan for the first time since she was attacked on October 9, 2012.

Fazlullah's men shot the schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in 2012.

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.

According to Pakistani officials, Fazlullah, who is believed to be in his 40s, took refuge in Afghanistan after the TTP was pushed out of Pakistan following multiple offensives by the military on its safe havens.

The Associated Press reported, however, that Sakhi Mashwani, a lawmaker from Konar province, said Fazlullah and five other insurgents were killed when the USA drone strike hit a vehicle in which they were riding.

Malala Yousafzai is now a student at Oxford
Malala Yousafzai is now a student at Oxford Credit AAMIR QURESHI AFP Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Ghani's remarks, saying peace talks would have to include a discussion on the role of "international actors and forces".

Fazlullah was buried within hours in Kunar, where he had been based for several years, said a Pakistani intelligence official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

"This attack shows that there is now an inclination in U.S policy toward Pakistan, which could further improve the security situation", Shah told Pakistan's Hum News TV.

Fazlullah became the leader of TTP, the terrorist group operating across the border with Pakistan, in 2013.

The spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Defence Mohammad Radmanish had confirmed on June 15 that Fazlullah, who led the TTP from 2013, was killed in a U.S. strike on Wednesday.

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

"We have been hearing since early Friday that our Emir (leader) was martyred along with four other militant commanders in Marawar area of Kunar".

Fazlullah emerged as the leader of the Taliban in the Swat Valley more than a decade ago.

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