US drone strike kills Taliban chief

In this file photo, people watch a news report on TV about the newly selected leader of Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah at a coffee shop in Islamabad, Pakistan on Nov. 7, 2013. (B.K. Bangash/AP)
Updated 15 June 2018
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US drone strike kills Taliban chief

  • Pakistani intelligence report, suggested earlier Friday that a drone strike has been carried out at Marorah area of Kunar province in Afghanistan and reportedly Fazalullah and four other commanders, Umar, Imran, Sajad and Abubker have been killed
  • Taliban sources confirmed to Arab News that Mulla Fazlullah has died in the drone strikes along with other commanders and that the outfit will issue an official statement within next 24 hours

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: 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.


‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

Updated 24 May 2019
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‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

  • A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide”
  • Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers

YANGON: Myanmar must “show results” to convince Rohingya refugees to return, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday at the end of his first visit to Myanmar since the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in 2017.
A brutal military campaign in western Rakhine state forced some 740,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.
Around one million Rohingya now languish in sprawling refugee camps from various waves of persecution.
A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide” and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has started preliminary investigations.
During his visit Grandi spoke with both Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist communities in Maungdaw and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence.
He also held discussions with officials in capital Naypyidaw, including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describing all talks as “constructive.”
“My message is: ‘please accelerate’, because it has been very slow in the implementation in this first year. We need to show results,” he told AFP in an interview in Yangon.
“This is not enough to convince people to come back,” he said.
Grandi visited the camps in Bangladesh in April.
The two countries have signed a repatriation agreement but so far virtually no refugees have returned, fearing for their safety and unconvinced they will be granted citizenship.
Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers and the community has had its rights eroded over decades.
Gaining independent access to northern Rakhine is difficult with most journalists, observers and diplomats only allowed on brief chaperoned visits.
Grandi defended the UNHCR’s involvement in a plan by the Bangladeshi government to move some 100,000 refugees onto low-lying island Bhashan Char.
The area in the Bay of Bengal is prone to flooding and cyclones.
Rights groups oppose the scheme that has also so far been universally rejected by the Rohingya themselves.
The refugee agency must be “involved” to have the necessary information in order to take a stance on the issue, Grandi said.
“We’re still at that stage, no more than that.”
He also visited camps near Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, where nearly 130,000 Rohingya have been confined since a previous bout of violence in 2012.
Myanmar has announced it will close the camps but many are skeptical the displaced will enjoy more freedoms.
Grandi said the UNHCR would reconsider its role in providing services if conditions did not substantially improve.
“To simply transform the camps, upgrade the camps, upgrade the houses, for example, but leave them in the same situation will not be a solution,” he said.