Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah 'killed in drone strike'

A screengrab taken in November 2013 from 2008 video footage shows Mullah Fazlullah then newly appointed chief of the Pakistan Taliban, speaking with local journalists in the Pakistan's northwestern Swat valley

"I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in a joint air operation with the USA in the border area of Marawara district of Kunar province", Mohammad Radmanish, spokesperson for the Afghanistan defence ministry, told the media.

A USA drone strike killed the head of the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan's eastern Konar province, Afghan officials said Friday, eliminating a notorious insurgent commander who had ordered attacks on schoolchildren in Pakistan, including future Nobel Peace Prize victor Malala Yousafzai.

The airstrike was conducted at about 9 a.m. local time on Thursday, Radmanish added.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan confirmed that it carried out a "counterterrorism strike" on Thursday in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan that targeted "a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization".

USA officials say Fazullah ordered numerous high-profile attacks against American and Pakistani targets, including a 2014 school massacre that killed 141 people, mostly children.

Pentagon officials say a USA drone has targeted the leader of the Pakistani Taliban in an Afghan province near the border with Pakistan, and security sources as well as an Afghan official say he was killed.

The US also said Fazlullah ordered the 2012 attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls' rights to schooling.

Hours after the telephone call between President Ghani and Gen Qamar, The Express Tribune acquired pictures of the purported graves of Mullah Fazlullah and his four commanders somewhere in eastern Afghanistan.

A USA official said the US believes that it is likely the strike killed Fazlullah, but efforts are ongoing to confirm his death.

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File image of Mullah Fazlullah.

A Pakistani security official told VOA Friday the killing of Fazlullah, if confirmed, vindicates Islamabad's long-held belief that fugitive anti-state militants have established bases in "ungoverned spaces" on the Afghan side of the porous border and plot terrorist attacks against Pakistan from there.

Fazlullah emerged as the leader of the Taliban in the Swat Valley more than a decade ago.

The militant rose to prominence through fiery radio rants, earning him the nickname Mullah Radio.

This includes the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, which killed 151 people.

From a young age, she has been an advocate for girls education, writing online about the intimidation efforts of the terror group, which particularly targeting schools, in her home province.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan has declared a three-day ceasefire with the larger Afghan Taliban, which ruled the country for five years before being ousted in 2001.

According to Pakistani officials, Fazlullah, who is believed to be in his 40s, took refuge in Afghanistan after the TTP was pushed out of Pakistan following multiple offensives by the military on its safe havens.

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