By Arab News
By Tahir Khan and Naimat Khan
A US drone strike has killed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mulla Fazalullah in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, sources within the group told Arab News.
“Fazalullah died along with other commanders,” a TTP source said, adding that the group will issue an official statement in the next 24 hours. The TTP’s spokesman did not reply to an email from Arab News.
Voice of America quoted US Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell as saying: “US forces conducted a counterterrorism strike June 13 in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.”
A Pakistani intelligence report obtained by Arab News on Friday said a drone strike had been carried out on a car carrying Fazalullah in the Marorah area of Kunar after he had attended an iftar.
Fazalullah, who escaped after the Pakistani military carried out a major counterterror operation in the northwestern Swat valley in 2009, had regrouped his fighters in the border region of Afghanistan, according to security officials.
He was blamed for many deadly attacks, including the 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed nearly 150 students and teachers.
He was also accused of ordering the attempted killing of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai in Swat in 2012.
Fazalullah was appointed TTP chief after a US drone killed his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud in the North Waziristan region.
Fazalullah’s son Abdullah,17, and 20 other militants were killed in a US drone strike in Kunar.
Fazalullah’s deputy, Noor Wali Mehsud, is most likely to succeed him, said the TTP source. Mehsud, 40, was made deputy after the killing of Khalid Sajna in a drone strike, and was the TTP’s Karachi chief from June 2013 until May 2015.
Mehsud is author of the book “Inqilab-e-Mehsud,” in which he claimed to have assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.