TERROR CRACKDOWN

US confirms Al Qaeda leader's death in Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN-CASUALTY/BURIAL An Afghan man inspects a house destroyed during ThursdayÕs clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban in Kunduz, Afghanistan on Friday | Reuters

The Pentagon has confirmed that Al Qaeda's top leader in Afghanistan, Faruq al-Qatani, was killed in a US strike.

The airstrike was carried out on October 23 in Kunar province, located 230 km east of Kabul and along the border with Pakistan, the Pentagon announced on Friday.

"This successful strike is another example of US operations to degrade international terrorist networks and target terrorist leaders who seek to attack the US homeland, our interests and our allies abroad," the US department of defence said .

According to the Pentagon, Qatani was Al Qaeda's leader for northeastern Afghanistan and was tasked with re-establishing Al Qaeda safe havens in that mountainous part of the country.

However, Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, which had already announced Qatani's death a few days ago, identified him as the leader of Al Qaeda in the country.

In addition to Qatani, the US also targeted Bilal al-Utabi, another senior Al Qaeda leader and whose death is yet to be confirmed by the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, the NDS has already announced the killing of Utabi, who it identified as Qatani's second-in-command. 

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