In scenes that would have seemed impossible a few days ago, members of the Afghan Taliban have been pictured embracing Afghan security forces amid a three-day ceasefire called to mark Eid. Militants also met Interior Minister Wais Barmak in the capital Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani has extended the government's ceasefire and called on the Taliban to do the same. However 20 people died in a suicide attack on one gathering of Taliban and government officials in Nangarhar. Taliban members and local residents were among the victims of the attack, carried out by a suicide attacker on foot, Nangarhar province spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told the BBC.
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – Pakistani Taliban militants chose a religious scholar as their new chief in place of Mullah Fazlullah, the insurgent leader who ordered the assassination of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and was killed earlier this month in a U.S. drone strike. Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said Saturday that the executive council of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan appointed Mufti Noor Wali Mahsud as its new chief and Mufti Mazhim, aka Mufti Hafzullah, as his deputy. Khurasani conceded for the first time that Mullah Fazlullah was killed in the drone attack in Afghanistan's Kunar province. He did not say when and where the TTP executive council met to choose the new leader. A ruthless leader, Fazlullah ordered the beheading of dozens of opponents when his band of insurgents controlled Pakistan's picturesque Swat Valley from 2007 until a massive military operation routed them out in 2009.
In contrast to Fazlullah's infamous brutality, the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban has a scholastic and literary background. Mahsud, 40, studied at a number of religious seminaries in Pakistan to specialize in different fields of religious teaching. He served as a deputy to Baitullah Mahsud, who has been blamed for the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The new leader Mahsud earlier this year authored a book in which he described the planning of Bhutto's assassination, identifying the militants involved including one who is still at large and believed to be hiding in south Waziristan. Mahsud also fought against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and took part in TTP attacks against Pakistani security forces.
KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan Defense Ministry official says a U.S. drone strike in northeastern Kunar province has killed Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah. Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish tells The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday that Fazlullah and two other insurgents were killed early Thursday morning. According to a statement attributed to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman, Lt. Col Martin O'Donnell, the U.S. carried out a "counterterrorism strike" Thursday near in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan targeting "a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization." The statement did not say whether the strike had killed anyone and did not identify Fazlullah as the target. Radmanish said the attack took place in Marawara district, near the border.
Nov. 7, 2013: Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah is seen on television at a coffee shop in Islamabad. The Pakistani Taliban leader known for beheading police officers and even ordering the assassination of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has been killed by a U.S. drone strike, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry says. Mohammad Radmanish told the Associated Press on Friday that Mullah Fazlullah, the ruthless insurgent leader, died along with two other terrorists a day earlier in the Marawara district along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. A statement attributed to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col Martin O'Donnell said an American "counterterrorism strike" was carried out in the region targeting "a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization," but did not say whether it had killed anyone. Fazlullah previously ordered the bombing and beheadings of dozens of opponents when his band of insurgents controlled Pakistan's picturesque Swat Valley from 2007 until a massive military operation routed them in 2009.