A top Pakistani Taliban militant commander wanted for his role in a deadly school massacre in Peshawar has been killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan, the Pakistani says.
Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, the director general of the Pakistani media division, said in a message posted on Twitter Wednesday that Umar Narai, also known as Khalifa Umar Mansoor or Khalid Khurasani, died in Afghanistan’s troubled eastern province of Nangarhar on July 10.
Bajwa added that Afghanistan-based US General John W. Nicholson called Pakistan’s chief, General Raheel Sharif, and confirmed the death of the militant commander.
The CIA spy agency regularly uses drones for airstrikes and spying missions in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border.
Meanwhile, one senior militant commander said the pro-Taliban militants had decided not to comment on the death until a successor is chosen.
“It’s a huge loss to the small but most effective Taliban faction of Khalifa Umar Mansoor,” Reuters quoted the commander as saying, adding, “There is no such prominent figure of his status to run his organization.”
Pakistani security officials said Narai was one of those responsible for the deadly attack on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December 2014, where more than 150 people were killed, most of them children.
Pakistani patrol a street leading to the Public School in Peshawar, December 16, 2015. (AFP photo)
Narai had also claimed responsibility for a separate attack on Bacha Khan University in the northwestern Pakistani city of Charsadda on January 20 this year, in which 22 people, most of them students and teachers, were killed.
Pakistan has been engaged in a major offensive against militant hideouts across the northwestern tribal regions since June 2014, when a deadly raid on the Karachi International Airport ended the government’s faltering peace talks with the pro-Taliban militants.