Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah has been killed in a clash with Afghan forces near the border, a media report said on Thursday, quoting the Afghan border police.
Fazlullah, who headed the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, was reportedly killed along with six of his comrades in the Barg Matal district of Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, which lies close to the border with Pakistan, Geo News reported, quoting Mohammad Zaman Mamozai, chief of the Afghan border force for the eastern region.
“Maulvi Fazlullah was killed in direct clash with Afghan border police...last (Wednesday) night,” he added.
The Afghan Taliban have confirmed the clash but say no foreign militants were involved.
The news of Fazlullah’s death comes on the heels of several days of clashes between Afghan forces and militants in Barg Matal.
Maulana Faqir Mohammad, who heads a Pakistani Taliban faction based in the Bajuar tribal region, denied reports that Fazlullah was leading an assault in Afghanistan.
“He could be in Nuristan because the Taliban have been moving back and forth along the (Pakistan—Afghan) border,” he had said before reports of Fazlullah’s death came in.
“He may be living in Nuristan but he is not engaged in any fighting there,” Faqir maintained.
In a BBC interview in November, Fazlullah said he had escaped to Afghanistan after a Pakistani military offensive against the Taliban in his Swat Valley stronghold in April last year.
Fazlullah is the son—in—law of radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who had brokered a controversial deal with the government in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, now known as Khyber—Pakhtoonkhwa, for imposing the Sharia law in the region in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.
Instead, the Taliban moved south from their Swat strongholds and occupied the Buner district that is just 100 km from Pakistan capital Islamabad, prompting the military to go into action against them.
The military says that some 3,000 militants were killed in the offensive that wound down in October 2009.