A U.S.-Afghan airstrike has killed the Taliban leader in Pakistan. A senior Afghan Defense Ministry official said on Friday, that Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah was killed in the air attack.

 

The U.S. military said in Washington on Thursday it had carried out a strike aimed at a senior militant figure in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, which is on the Pakistani border, and one U.S. official said the target was believed to be Fazlullah.

Fazlullah was Pakistan’s most-wanted militant, notorious for attacks including a 2014 school massacre that killed 132 children and the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“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,” Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for Afghan defense ministry, told Reuters, adding the air strike was carried out at about 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Fazlullah’s death could ease strained ties between Islamabad and Washington even as Afghanistan observes an unprecedented three-day ceasefire with the larger Afghan Taliban.

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Pakistan is considered key to persuading Afghan Taliban leaders, who Washington believes shelter on Pakistani soil, to open negotiations to end the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.

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

He was reviled in Pakistan for the 2014 assault on an army-run school in the city of Peshawar in which Pakistani Taliban gunmen killed at least 132 children.

He is also believed to have ordered the 2012 shooting of then-15-year-old Yousafzai over her advocacy of girls’ education.

Most of the Pakistani Taliban now reside in Afghanistan, although they are separate from them. The United States has been sharply critical of Pakistan and has accused them of harboring the Afghani Taliban and the Haqqani network which Islamabad has denied.

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