U.S. air strike targets Pakistan Taliban chief in Afghanistan

Clay Curtis
June 16, 2018

Military officials - speaking off record - said Wednesday's strike targeted Mullah Fazlullah, who is the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

US forces targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike on Thursday in eastern Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, US officials said, without confirming his death.

"U.S. forces conducted a counterterrorism strike, June 13, in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan & Pakistan which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization", a spokesperson for United States forces in Afghanistan Lieutenant-Colonel Martin McDonnell said.

The US State Department offered a $5 million reward for Fazlullah in March, the same month Pakistani sources said his son was killed in a USA drone strike on a TTP training facility. Yousafzai was gravely wounded in a 2012 shooting after her advocacy as a youth for girls' education.

Fazlullah was named TTP chief after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike in November 2013.

President Ghani also informed PM Mulk about positive developments following the recent ceasefire announcement in Afghanistan which would help pave the way for the Afghan peace process to consolidate.

"We hope this pause leads to dialogue and progress on reconciliation and a lasting end to hostilities", O'Donnell added. She survived the attack and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

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Along with masterminding the attack on Yousafzai, Fazlullah was the leader of the TTP when they claimed responsibility for the bloodiest terrorist attack in Pakistan's history, on 16 December 2014 at Army Public School in Peshawar, which left around 150 people majority schoolchildren dead.

The U.S. State Department began offering a $5 million reward for Fazullah in March.

Kunar is believed to be a stronghold of both Pakistani and Afghan Taliban.

Fazlullah emerged as the leader of the Taliban in the Swat Valley more than a decade ago. Islamabad says the Pakistani Taliban maintain sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The militant rose to prominence through fiery radio rants, earning him the nickname Mullah Radio. He was reviled in Pakistan for the 2014 assault on Army Public School in the city of Peshawar in which TTP gunmen shot dead at least 132 children.

In 2012, Taliban fighters attempted to kill her when she was just 15 years old as she rode the bus home from an exam.

"US Forces-Afghanistan and NATO-led Resolute Support forces continue to adhere to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's unilateral ceasefire with the Afghan Taliban, announced by ..."

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