Pakistani Taliban Leaders Reported Killed In Air Strike

Three Pakistani Taliban leaders have reportedly been killed in joint Afghan and NATO air strikes in eastern Afghanistan, Pakistani security sources say.

Sources told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on September 25 that Raees Khan, also known as Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the Khan Said group of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, was killed in the air strikes late on September 24.

The air strikes targeted the Laman area of Afghanistan's Paktika Province, along the volatile border with Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, a hotbed of various extremist groups.

A senior official with Khan Said confirmed to Radio Mashaal that Tariq had been killed.

Sources said Tariq's son and two other Taliban leaders from North Waziristan were also killed in the attack, but did not give their names.

Afghan authorities confirmed the air strikes and said three Al-Qaeda commanders and six other members had been killed.

Mohammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman for the Defense Ministry, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan on September 25 that Tariq was likely among the dead.

Nabiullah Pirkhil, a spokesman for Paktika Province's governor, told Radio Mashaal that among the dead were members of Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, a radical wing of the Afghan Taliban that is based in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The Khan Said faction in 2014 severed ties with Mullah Fazluallah, the current TTP leader, saying it would operate independently from North Waziristan.

Afghan and NATO forces have increasingly targeted Islamic State, Haqqani network, and Pakistani Taliban positions in eastern Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, the army has conducted large-scale operations to root out militants from the tribal areas since 2014.

But Kabul has accused Islamabad of targeting only Pakistani Taliban fighters, who are fighting to overthrow the Pakistani government, and giving free rein to other militant groups fighting Afghan and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal and Radio Free Afghanistan