Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Mullah Fazlullah killed in US strike, Afghan official confirms

KABUL, JUN 15 (DNA) – Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah was killed in a U.S. air strike near the border with Afghanistan on Thursday, a senior Afghan Defence Ministry official told on Friday.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.

Fazlullah is Pakistan´s most-wanted militant, notorious for attacks including a 2014 school massacre that killed 132 children and the separate 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

If he were confirmed killed by the United States, it could ease strained ties between Islamabad and Washington even as Afghanistan observes an unprecedented three-day ceasefire with the larger Afghan Taliban.

In March, the United States offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah.

A member of the Pakistani Taliban told by telephone on Friday said the group was trying to get word from Afghanistan, where most of the Pakistani Taliban fighters are now based.

“We have been hearing since early Friday that our Emir(leader) was martyred along with four other militant commanders in Marawar area of Kunar. They were staying at a house when the drone fired missiles and martyred them,” said Taliban member Maulvi Abdur Rasheed.

“Since then we are making all-out efforts to check if it´s true, but most of our senior colleagues are out of access.

“In Afghanistan, government officials in Kunar province declined to comment on the air strike.

Fazlullah is reviled in Pakistan for the 2014 assault on an army-run school in the city of Peshawar in which Pakistani Taliban gunmen killed at least 132 children.

He is also believed to have ordered the 2012 shooting of then-15-year-old Yousafzai over her advocacy of girls´ education.

The Pakistani Taliban have waged a decade-long insurgency seeking to establish a harsh interpretation of Islamic rule but most of their fighters have now fled to Afghanistan.

They are separate from the Afghan Taliban who ruled Afghanistan for five years before being ousted in a 2001 U.S. -led military action.

Islamabad says the Pakistani Taliban maintain sanctuaries in Afghanistan.