The Pakistani Taliban leader who ordered a school massacre that killed 132 children and the shooting of the schoolgirl that stood up against the tyrannical reign has been killed in a US-Afghan air strike.
The United States military said it has carried out a strike in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, on the Pakistani border, on Thursday. The strike was aimed at a senior militant figure there, supposedly Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, an official has reported.
Mullah Fazlullah, also known as ‘Mullah Radio’, was killed in the strike.
Fazlullah was notorious for attacks, and stood as Pakistan’s most-wanted militant. He emerged as an Islamist leader over a decade ago in the Swat Valley, northwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
In 2014, he was reviled in Pakistan for a school massacre in 2014 that killed 132 children. He is also believed to have ordered the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai over her advocacy of girls’ education. Malala went on to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for Afghan defence ministry, spoke to Reuters about the strike.
I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in an joint air operation in the border area of Marawera district of Kunar province.
The killing will likely ease tensions between Pakistan and the US, as Pakistan is considered vital in persuading Afghan Taliban leaders to open negotiations to end the 17-year-old Afghanistan war. Washington believes the Afghan Taliban leaders shelter on Pakistani soil.
The US had been looking for information on Fazlullah, and in 2015 offered a $5 million reward for information on the Taliban leader.
Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, spoke to Voices of America on Thursday following the strike, but did not specify who it was targeting.
U.S. forces conducted a counterterrorism strike June 13 in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.
The Afghanistan government announced a ceasefire to take effect this week. O’Donnell continued:
…as previously stated, the ceasefire does not include U.S. counter-terrorism efforts against (Islamic State and al Qaeda) and other regional and international terrorist groups, or the inherent right of U.S. and international forces to defend ourselves if attacked.
We hope this pause leads to dialogue and progress on reconciliation and a lasting end to hostilities
The Pakistani Taliban were trying to get word from Afghanistan, a member of the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters on Friday. Most of the Pakistani Taliban fighters are now based in Afghanistan.
Taliban member Maulvi Abdur Rasheed told Reuters:
We have been hearing since early Friday that our Emir (leader) was martyred along with four other militant commanders in Marawar ara of Kunar. They were staying at a house when a drone fired missiles and martyred them.
Most fighters from the Pakistani Taliban have now fled to Afghanistan. The group is separate from the Afghan Taliban, and have waged a decade-long insurgency looking to enforce a harsh interpretation of Islamic rule.
Washington and Kabul believe Pakistan have been harbouring Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, though Islamabad denies these accusations, and say the Pakistani Taliban maintain sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.