- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2018

A U.S. drone strike Thursday killed Pakistan Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, Afghan officials said, taking a major insurgent figure off the battlefield.

“I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in an joint air operation in the border area of Marawera district of Kunar province,” Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish told Reuters Friday.

Afghan government officials told The Associated Press that Fazlullah — responsible for a host of horrific, high-profile attacks, such as the 2014 Peshawar school attack that left nearly 150 people dead, including 132 students — was taken out by a U.S. drone near the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that two other insurgents also were killed.

U.S. officials didn’t identify the target of the strike in a statement Friday, but said a “a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization” had been killed in the “counterterrorism strike.”

Two other militants also were killed in the strike, according to media reports.

Earlier this year, the U.S. offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah, citing his role in the 2014 school attack, the 2012 beheadings of 17 Pakistani soldiers, and the 2012 shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.

The strike against Fazlullah comes during an announced cease-fire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, though U.S. officials said that cease-fire does not apply to counterterrorism efforts.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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