June 14, 2018 / 8:54 PM / 5 months ago

U.S. military targets senior militant in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U. S. military said on Thursday it had carried out a strike aimed at a senior militant near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and one U.S. official said the target was believed to be the head of the Pakistani Taliban militant group.

“U.S. 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,” Lieutenant-Colonel Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said.

A U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the target of the strike is believed to have been Mullah Fazlullah, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban group that has waged a decade-long insurgency in the South Asian nation.

The official said the status of Fazlullah was unclear.

In March the United States offered a $5-million reward for information on Fazlullah.

Although Pakistani Taliban militants still unleash attacks, the group has lost control of all territory in Pakistan since its Dec. 2014 attack on an army school that killed 132 children.

The Pakistani Taliban, whose Urdu name is Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, has also threatened attacks against the U.S. homeland. The group claimed responsibility for a failed 2010 bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square.

In 2012, its fighters also shot Malala Yousafzai, then an 11-year-old who advocated education for fellow girls. She received the Nobel peace prize in 2014.

Washington and Kabul accuse Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban and fighters of the allied Haqqani network, which Islamabad denies. Islamabad says the Pakistani Taliban maintains sanctuaries in neighboring Afghanistan.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Alistair Bell

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