- Associated Press - Sunday, August 26, 2012

KABUL, AfghanistanAfghanistan’s intelligence agency said Sunday its sources have confirmed that the son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani terrorist network was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan, even as the Taliban vowed that he was alive and well.

Shafiquallh Tahriri, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, said Badruddin Haqqani was killed last week. He did not provide any further details and would not say what information the agency’s operatives were basing their conclusion on.

Mr. Tahiri’s account is similar to one provided Saturday by a senior Taliban leader who said Haqqani was killed in a drone strike. It also hews closely to a version provided by Pakistani officials who said they were 90 percent sure the militant commander was killed Tuesday in a missile attack in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region.

Haqqani’s death would mark a major blow to the organization founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The son is considered the network’s day-to-day operations commander. The Haqqani network has been blamed for a series of high-profile attacks and kidnappings in Afghanistan, and the United States considers it one of the most powerful militant groups operating in the country.

The Taliban, closely allied with the Haqqani network, have rejected all reports of Haqqani’s death.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said Haqqani is alive and in good health in Afghanistan.

“A number of media have reported that Badruddin Haqqani has been killed. We would like to inform all media that this rumor is not correct,” Mr. Mujahid said in the email to reporters late Saturday.

“Badruddin Haqqani is in the country and is occupied with his operational responsibilities. He is alive and healthy. The rumor about him being killed is more propaganda of the enemy,” he said.

The United States does not comment publicly on its drone program, which is widely reviled by the Pakistani public and has been a source of tension with Islamabad.

The areas where the American drone strikes generally occur are extremely remote and dangerous, making it difficult for reporters or others to verify a particular person’s death.

Badruddin Haqqani is considered a vital part of the terrorist structure and is believed to have played an active role in kidnappings, extortion and high-profile operations in Afghanistan.

Mr. Tahiri said that Haqqani’s responsibilities included arranging foreign suicide bombings, maintaining relations with other insurgent groups, recruiting Pakistani Taliban fighters to the Haqqani group and overseeing operations in southeastern Afghanistan and in Kabul.

“He was the mastermind of the organized suicide attacks in Kabul,” he said, referring to a number of high-profile strikes in the Afghan capital targeting everything from hotels to Western embassies.

“He was the mastermind of the organized suicide attacks in Kabul.”

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