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

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The Afghanistan government today confirmed that Mullah Fazlullah, the Pakistani Taliban leader accused of ordering a failed assassination attempt on Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012, was killed yesterday in a U.S. air strike.

"Fazlullah along with his men were killed at about 2:30am local time in Marawayra district along the Durand Line in Kunar province in a drone strike", Radmanish said.

The U.S. military said in Washington on Thursday it had carried out a strike aimed at a senior militant figure in Kunar province and one U.S. official said the target was believed to be Fazlullah.

He has been operating in Afghanistan for years.

"As previously stated, the ceasefire does not include U.S. counter-terrorism efforts against [Daesh], Al-Qaida, and other regional and worldwide terrorist groups, or the inherent right of USA and global forces to defend ourselves if attacked", he had said.

A USA official said the US believes that it is likely the strike killed Fazlullah, but efforts are ongoing to confirm his death.

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman did not reply to requests for comment on Friday, nor did the official military spokesman.

The attack conducted on Thursday killed at Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Fazlullah along with four others, said Voice of America.

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

The US had offered $5m (£3.8m) in March for information about his whereabouts. His headquarters was just over the border with Afghanistan in Kunar.

When Ms Yousafzai publicly challenged the Taliban's stance in Swat, Fazlullah ordered the 15-year-old be killed, though she survived and went on to be awarded the Nobel peace prize. He was known as Mullah Radio for his fiery broadcasts.

Fazlullah, regarded in Pakistan as a particularly ruthless militant, was widely reviled for ordering a bloody attack on a Pakistani army school in December 2014 in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The Pakistan Taliban waged a decade-long insurgency to establish strict Islamic rule, but most fighters have by now fled to Kabul.

General John Nicholson, the commander of the US Forces Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, said earlier the US would adhere to the ceasefire announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which did not include US counter-terrorism operations against other terror groups. The Pakistani branch has been allied with several other terrorist groups, including the notorious Haqqani network, responsible for the deaths of many Americans in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, military and political affairs analysts said Pakistan may have been involved in the death of Fazlullah, because of his suspected involvement in organizing attacks inside Pakistan.

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