Afghan official: US drone kills Pakistan Taliban chief


Associated Press

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

A U.S. drone strike in northeastern Kunar province killed Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, the insurgent leader who ordered the assassination of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said Friday.

In a telephone interview, Mohammad Radmanish said Fazlullah and two other insurgents were killed early Thursday, just hours before Afghanistan’s Taliban began a three-day cease fire to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. The three-day holiday follows the end of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan when devout adherents fast from sunrise to sunset.

However, Sakhi Mashwani, a Parliamentarian from Kunar province told the Associated Press that Fazlullah, along with five other insurgents, died when the strike slammed into the vehicle in which they were driving.

Mashwani said dozens of people, including Fazlullah’s brother, Moheen Dada, gathered Friday in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar province, to offer prayers for the dead Taliban leader.

A U.S. official said the U.S. believes that it is likely the strike killed Fazlullah, but efforts are ongoing to confirm his death. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary information.

According to a statement attributed to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col Martin O’Donnell, the U.S. carried out a “counterterrorism strike” Thursday in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan targeting “a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.”

The statement did not say whether the strike had killed anyone and did not identify Fazlullah as the target.

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