Afghanistan confirms killing of Pakistani Taliban leader

“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 spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan told Arab News. (AFP)
Updated 15 June 2018
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Afghanistan confirms killing of Pakistani Taliban leader

  • US officials claim the drone strike targeting the TTP chief is “not a violation” of the temporary truce offered by President Ghani to the Taliban militants
  • Fazlullah’s death is a major loss for Pakistani Taliban in years and apparently the first on the Afghan soil

KABUL: The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazalullah, was killed on Wednesday in a US drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said on Friday.
Fazalullah, who had a bounty of $5 million on his head, “was a terrorist leader,” Radmanesh told Arab News. “His death will have a multifaceted impact.”
A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Col, Martin O’Donnell, told Arab News in an email: “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.”
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday said the Taliban is honoring its three-day cease-fire that began Thursday night in response to his truce. He expressed hope for its extension.
Ghani said he had spoken overnight with Saudi King Salman, who pledged his “full support for the truce and peace” in Afghanistan.
“This is the first cease-fire in the contemporary history of Afghanistan, and I want to congratulate the people for that,” Ghani added, saying he welcomes any step that leads to the end of bloodshed in the country.
Before declaring its truce, the Taliban unleashed a series of deadly attacks against government forces in various parts of the country, ignoring Ghani’s cease-fire, which began on Tuesday and will last for three more days. The US drone strike did not violate Ghani’s truce, O’Donnell said.


French police hunt suspect after Lyon bomb ‘attack’

Updated 9 min 54 sec ago
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French police hunt suspect after Lyon bomb ‘attack’

  • Police issued an appeal for witnesses on Twitter as they sought the man believed to be in his early 30s
  • Justice minister Nicole Belloubet told BFM television it was too soon to say whether the blast was a “terrorist act”

LYON: Police in France were on Saturday hunting a suspect following a blast in a pedestrian street in the heart of Lyon that lightly wounded 13 people two days ahead of hotly contested European Parliament elections.
President Emmanuel Macron called the Friday evening explosion, from a package believed to have been packed with shrapnel, an “attack” and sent interior minister Christophe Castaner to Lyon.
Police issued an appeal for witnesses on Twitter as they sought the man believed to be in his early 30s, who was picked up by security cameras on a mountain bicycle immediately before the explosion.
An image of the suspect, wearing light-colored shorts and a longsleeved dark top, was posted. He was described as “dangerous.”
Justice minister Nicole Belloubet told BFM television it was too soon to say whether the blast was a “terrorist act.”
The case was nonetheless handed to the Paris prosecutor for anti-terrorism that deal with all terrorist cases.
The number of wounded stood at 13 people, with 11 taken to hospitals. None of the injuries was life-threatening but included eight women and a 10-year-old girl as well as four men.
A police source said the package contained “screws or bolts.” It had been placed in front of a bakery near a busy corner of two crowded streets at around 17:30 p.m. (1530 GMT).
District mayor Denis Broliquier said “the charge was too small to kill,” and an administrative source told AFP it was a “relatively weak explosive charge” that was triggered at a distance.
The blast occurred on a narrow strip of land between the Saone and Rhone rivers in the historic center of the southeast city. The area was evacuated and cordoned off by police.
“There was an explosion and I thought it was a car crash,” said Eva, a 17-year-old student who was about 15 meters (50 feet) from the blast site.
“There were bits of electric wire near me, and batteries and bits of cardboard and plastic. The windows were blown out,” he said.
“I was working, serving customers, and all of a sudden there was a huge ‘boom’,” said Omar Ghezza, a baker who works nearby.
“We thought it had something to do with renovation work. But in fact it was an abandoned package,” he said.
France has been on high alert following a wave of deadly terror attacks since 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.
“It’s an area in the very center of Lyon, a major street,” the city’s deputy mayor in charge of security, Jean-Yves Secheresse, told BFM television.
“These areas are highly secured, the police are continually present,” as were patrols by soldiers deployed in a long-running anti-terror operation, he said.
Lyon is the third-biggest city in Francewith extensive suburbs and a poplation of 2.3 million.
The most recent package bomb in France dates back to December 2007, when an explosion in front of a law office in Paris killed one person and injured another. Police never found who carried out that attack.