Senior Taliban commander killed by US strike in Afghanistan

Senior foreign Taliban commander killed in US drone strike, as Taliban launch offensive on Afghan government and foreign targets

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt

According to local officials, a senior foreign commander of Taliban was killed on Tuesday by a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan.

Zarqawi, the commander, was killed in Ghazni Abad, Kunar province. One of his bodyguards was killed in the strike also. There have been no reports of civilian causalities.

Provincial police chief General Abdul Habib Saedkhil said, “The American’s unmanned plane targeted the hideout of Zarqawi in Sawki Dara locality on early Tuesday morning. Reportedly, he died on the spot.”

The Taliban also launched a fierce attack on army posts in the district of Kunar’s Narai on the Pakistani border early in the morning in local time.

An army spokesperson said the Afghan security forces repelled the attack in which at least 50 Taliban were killed out of the 400 involved in the operation.

In late April the Taliban announced that it had started a “spring offensive” and increased attacks on governmental and foreign targets.

Afghan authorities have repeatedly tried to start talks with the Taliban to end the 13-year conflict between the group and the government. But the Taliban has stipulated conditions including the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

In December, NATO’s combat mission formally ended, however a small foreign force of about 12,500 mainly US troops has stayed in the country to train local security forces.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said almost 1,000 civilians were killed during the first four months of this year.

Marja district of Helmand province was the focus of a major US-led military operation carried out to wipe the insurgent group early in 2010.

TRTWorld and agencies