Ghani confirms death of Pakistani Taliban leader

Ghani confirms death of Pakistani Taliban leader

The Afghan Defense Ministry said Fazlullah was killed in northeastern Kunar, a province in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported.

In his Eid greeting this week, Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhunzada repeated the Taliban demand for direct talks with the United States before opening negotiations with the Afghan government.

Pakistan is building a fence along its 2400-km border with Afghanistan, which it hopes will fortify the frontier.

The US military said Thursday it carried out a strike targeting a senior terrorist leader in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, where Pakistani Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah is believed to be hiding. The Afghan Taliban announced their cease-fire after Ghani unilaterally declared a temporary cease-fire for the holidays on June 7.

In 2014, there were reports that Fazlullah had been killed.

The U.S. also said Fazlullah ordered the 2012 attempt to assassinate Malala Yousafzai, who had been advocating for the right of girls to have access to an education.

"As previously stated, the cease-fire does not include USA counterterrorism efforts against IS-K, al-Qaida, and other regional and worldwide terrorist groups, or the inherent right of US and global forces to defend ourselves if attacked", USA military spokesman O'Donnell told VOA. A second defence official also confirmed the strike had targeted Fazlullah.

He was known as "Mullah Radio" for his fiery sermons broadcast over a radio channel.

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The cross-border militant attack comes three days after Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's Kabul visit, during which he held a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and engaged in delegation-level discussions on issues of bilateral interest.

The U.S. officials who spoke anonymously to Reuters, Voice of America, and AFP said Fazlullah's status was unclear or declined to say whether the operation was successful.

In a statement released by the TTP, the group acknowledged its leader had been killed.

Mullah Fazlullah had claimed credit for the gruesome slaughter of more than 140 pupils and staff at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in December 2014.

Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk expressed grief over the loss of three precious lives of Pakistan Army officials who embraced martyrdom in Shawal while repelling the terrorist attack on the posts from across the border, according to a PM House statement.

Nicholson said the United States would adhere to the unilateral cease-fire announced by Ghani, which did not apply to USA counterterrorism attacks on other terror groups. Fazlullah's name was included in a list presented to the Afghan military a year ago of TTP leaders that are considered to be taking refuge inside Afghanistan. This is the kind of cooperation that is needed, instead of the regular blame game that goes on between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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

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