US drone strike kills top TTP leader along Pak Afghan border in Afghanistan

US drone strike kills top TTP leader along Pak Afghan border in Afghanistan

KABUL - A US drone strike on Tuesday struck a compound of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in eastern Afghanistan, causing casualties, security sources said.

Sources said a senior Pakistani Taliban leader Omar Rehman, known as Ustad Fateh, was scheduled to visit the house of a TTP leader Ahmad Swati, when the US drone fired two missiles on the building at 10am.

Spokesman for outlawed TTP Muhammad Khorasani did not reply to a query when asked if the pilotless aircraft had hit Fateh, a former TTP commander in Swat and close confidant of Maulvi Fazalullah, who was killed in a drone strike in Kunar on June 13.

A security source said the US drone targeted the Taliban commander in Shultan district of Kunar, which is thought to be one of the major sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border.

Kabul-based Afghan Islamic Press also reported the drone strike had “killed” the TTP leader. There was no independent confirmation of the report.

A source of the Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar also confirmed the drone attack but did not say whether or not it killed the Taliban leader. Fateh, a bomb-making expert, was among the few strong candidates to replace Fazalullah but the TTP leaders elected Mufti Noor Wali alias Abu Mansoor Asim.

He was among the senior Taliban commanders, who had dodged thousands of troops in Swat to escape, and later appeared in Afghanistan. He was also associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad and was once arrested in connection with an attack on military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

If confirmed it would be another serious blow to the TTP, which is already under pressure due to a surge in US drone attacks and mounting pressure by Pakistani forces.

Months before Fazalullah’s death, the TTP lost another influential commander Khan Said alias Sajna in a US drone attack in eastern Afghanistan.

Security officials insist that Pakistani Taliban groups operate from the Afghan border regions and routinely launch attacks on Pakistani border posts.

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