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Afghan Official Confirms Airstrike Killed Senior Pakistani Militant Leader


FILE - Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal. (W. Asad/VOA)
FILE - Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal. (W. Asad/VOA)

Afghanistan's ambassador to Islamabad has released a statement confirming the killing of a top Pakistani Taliban commander in Afghanistan.

Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal said in a statement Monday "The killing of top TTP commander, Azam Tariq, in an operation by Afghan security forces in Paktika is yet another proof that Afghanistan is not in business of harboring terrorists as 'assets,' regardless of who they intend to target; and does not distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' of them."

Pakistani authorities allege TTP extremists use Afghan sanctuaries with the help of the neighboring country’s spy agency for staging and plotting cross-border deadly attacks on civilians as well as security forces.

Kabul, which has long blamed Islamabad for covertly supporting the Afghan Taliban, rejects the charges.

Media reports Sunday said suspected U.S. airstrikes in southeastern Afghanistan were believed to have killed a top commander of the extremist Pakistan Taliban and several of his partners.

The overnight attack took place in Bermal district of the Paktika province adjacent to the Pakistani border.

Bermal district, in Paktika province, Afghanistan
Bermal district, in Paktika province, Afghanistan

Rais Khan, also known as Azam Tariq, of the so-called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the TTP, and his son were among those reported killed in the attack, according to militant sources.

The U.S. military Sunday confirmed to VOA it carried out two airstrikes in the area, but refrained from discussing details for “operational security reasons.”

TTP has been waging a deadly insurgency on the state of Pakistan for over a decade. Most of it leaders and a large number of fighters fled to Afghanistan two years ago when the Pakistan military launched a major ground and air offensive against them in border areas.

The Pakistani Taliban is blamed for the killings of thousands of people in Pakistan during the past decade in terrorist attacks.