The United States has confirmed that a drone strike in Afghanistan has killed a top Pakistani Taliban leader who was responsible for planning the 2014 attack on a Pakistani school, one of the country's worst terror attacks.
A Pakistan military spokesman said Wednesday that the U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, telephoned his Pakistani counterpart, General Raheel Sharif and “confirmed death of terrorist Umar Narai through drone strike” in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.
Narai was wanted in Pakistan for masterminding the Taliban attack on an army-administered school in Peshawar in December 2014. Nearly 150 people, mostly young students, were massacred in what was condemned as one of the worst militant attacks in the country’s history.
The slain Taliban commander was also blamed for plotting the September 2015 deadly raid an Air Force base near Peshawar and the attack on a university not far from the city in January this year. Around 50 people were killed in the two attacks
A Pakistani security official requesting anonymity told VOA Islamabad welcomes Narai’s elimination, saying it shows that Pakistani militants fleeing security operations have taken refuge in Afghanistan.
On May 21, the U.S. military reported that a drone strike killed chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Mansoor in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Both Afghan and Pakistani officials accuse each other of sheltering militants involved in terrorist activities on their respective territory.
Authorities cite the long porous border dividing their countries for being unable to completely stop illegal movement on both sides.
On Wednesday, General Sharif chaired a meeting of his top commanders to discuss security along the Afghan border.
“To scrutinize cross border movement and ensure strict check on terrorist’s movement, the forum reviewed progress of measures being taken for effective border management,” an army statement said after the meeting.
Afghan and U.S. officials have lately increased pressure on Pakistan to stop Taliban and their allies, including the lethal Haqqani network, from using Pakistani soil for plotting insurgent attacks in Afghanistan.
U.S. Senator John McCain told VOA's Afghan Service Wednesday that it is "obvious" the Haqqani Network is still operating "with great effect" in Afghanistan. "The Haqqani network issue and their relationship with Islamic State still exists," he said. "But I do believe that the Pakistani military leadership is interested in making progress in that direction. Now whether they actually will or not, we will see."
McCain added it is in Afghanistan’s interest to see progress toward a better relationship with Pakistan.
View the full statement by Senator McCain: