U.S. drone strike kills leader of Pakistani Taliban, Pakistan says

17 June, 2018, 15:44 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah targeted in US drone strike in Afghanistan

"Ghani has full blessings of the USA administration and it is crucial for the US officials to prove that Trump's policies are working and talks with the Afghan Taliban are imminent", said a senior diplomat who met Afghan officials on Sunday to monitor the chance of back-channel talks with Taliban leaders.

Mullah Fazlullah and his four commanders - identified as Abu Bakar, Sajid, Umar, and Imran - were killed in the United States drone strike in the Dangam district of the Afghan province of Kunar, near the Pakistan border.

Mullah Fazlullah in an undated photo.

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson Lt. -Col.

During the meeting, the measures needed to check the rise of Daesh (the so-called IS) and terrorists benefiting from a porous Pak-Afghan border "to indulge in terrorism, smuggling and drug trafficking" were discussed, said a report in the leading English daily Dawn.

In response to the government truce, a three-day Taliban truce also comes into effect today.

"We hope this pause leads to dialogue and progress on reconciliation and a lasting end to hostilities", the statement added.

However, the statement did note that the drone attack did not violate a cease-fire announcement made June 7 by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani tweeted he had spoken with Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, "and confirmed the death of Mullaah Fazlullah". As leader of the TTP, Fazlullah had orchestrated a number of attacks on Pakistani soil.

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It happened hours before a three-day cease fire between Afghanistan's Taliban and USA and Afghan forces, meant to coincide with the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In his Eid day message, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada called for direct talks with the US, bypassing the Kabul government.

Said Nazir. A retired air marshal, Shahid Latif, called the strike "a significant development" that addressed long-standing Pakistani appeals for help against the insurgents across the border.

A retired Pakistani Brigadier, Mehmood Shah, welcomed the drone killing.

He said: "This attack shows that there is now an inclination in U.S. policy towards Pakistan, which could further improve the security situation".

The U.S. State Department in March announced a $5 million reward for help locating Fazlullah, who has also been linked to the 2010 attempted Times Square vehicle bombing in NY. His headquarters was just over the border with Afghanistan in Kunar.

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

Fazlullah rose to prominence through radio broadcasts in Swat demanding the imposition of Islamic law, earning him the nickname "Mullah Radio".

The group was behind the massacre of more than 150 people at a Peshawar school in December 2014, and nine dead in another attack in December 2017 in the same city.

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