Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah killed in United States drone strike


The Pakistani Taliban leader known for beheading police officers and even ordering the assassination of Nobel Peace Prize victor Malala Yousafzai has been killed by a US drone strike, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry says.

"I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in an joint air operation [with the US] in the border area of Marawera district of Kunar province", Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for Afghan defence ministry, told Reuters news agency, adding the air strike was carried out at about 9am local time on Thursday. They are separate from the Afghan Taliban who ruled Afghanistan for five years before being ousted in a 2001 US-led military action.

The official said the status of Fazlullah was unclear.

A statement from US Forces-Afghanistan claimed that the strike didn't put at risk the ongoing and unilateral ceasefire initiated by the Afghan government. The officials further said that Mullah Fazal Ullah had directed numerous high-profile attacks against the United States and Pakistan.

The statement did not say whether the strike had killed anyone and did not identify Fazlullah as the target, but added that USA forces were continuing to "adhere to a cease-fire" which Afghanistan has agreed with the Afghan Taliban, apparently ruling out any targets from that group. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which began on the 27th day of Ramadan.

Mullah Fazlullah was elected Taliban leader in 2013.

According to Pakistani officials, Fazlullah, who is believed to be in his forties, took refuge in Afghanistan after the TTP was pushed out of Pakistan following multiple offensives by the military on its safe havens.

He was 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.

Washington and Kabul accuse Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, which Islamabad denies.

Fazlullah rose to prominence through radio broadcasts in Swat demanding the imposition of Islamic law, earning him the nickname "Mullah Radio".

This file photo taken on April 10, 2017 shows Nobel Peace Prize victor Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan listening to a question during a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in NY. Islamabad, on the other hand, says the Taliban maintain sanctuaries in neighbouring Afghanistan.