–Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman confirms notorious terrorist’s killing in US drone strike in Kunar province on June 13
–Drone targeted vehicle carrying Fazlullah and four other senior commanders of proscribed terror outfit
ISLAMABAD: Mullah Fazlullah, the notorious chief of the proscribed terrorist outfit, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan’s northeastern Kunar province on June 13.
Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesperson Mohammad Radmanish said that Fazlullah, who led the TTP from 2013, was killed in the US strike on Wednesday.
US forces had conducted the strike close to the border of Pakistan and targeted a “senior leader of a designated terrorist organisation,” Lieutenant-Colonel Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan, had said a day earlier. O’Donnell, however, did not specify that Fazullah was the target.
A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Voice of America, said the strike late Wednesday targeted Mullah Fazlullah, the chief of the banned Taliban outfit that has waged a decade-long insurgency in the South Asian nation.
Fazlullah was reportedly travelling in a vehicle along with four other commanders when they were targeted by a drone around 11pm PST.
Fazlullah was named TTP chief after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike in November 2013.
The TTP chief was the region’s most-wanted terrorist, notorious for attacks including a 2014 Peshawar school massacre that killed 132 children and the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In March, the United States offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah.
It may be mentioned that Pakistan and Afghanistan have held seven meetings on Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS) this year. Pakistan had demanded Afghanistan to hand over 43 militants, including Fazlullah, in the meetings.
APAPPS was setup after the deadly attack on Intercontinental Hotel attack in Kabul in January this year.
The drone strike took place hours after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa left Kabul for Pakistan on Tuesday.
Fazlullah emerged as the leader of the Taliban in the Swat Valley more than a decade ago.
The TTP leader had a reputation as a ruthless commander prepared to do anything to enforce his uncompromising interpretation of Islamic law.
He was known as “Mullah Radio” for his fiery sermons broadcast over a radio channel. 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. He is also believed to have ordered the 2012 shooting of then-15-year-old Malala Yousafzai over her advocacy of girls’ education.
Although Taliban terrorists still unleash attacks, the group has lost control of all territory in Pakistan since its December 2014 attack on the army school.
The TTP has also threatened attacks against the US homeland and had claimed responsibility for a failed 2010 bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square.
The strike that killed Fazlullah comes amid a ceasefire between the Afghan Taliban and government security forces to mark the end of the holy month of Ramzan.
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.
“As previously stated, the ceasefire does not include US counter-terrorism efforts against [Daesh], Al-Qaida, and other regional and international terrorist groups, or the inherent right of US and international forces to defend ourselves if attacked,” he had said.