Islamic State’s top regional leader in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been killed by a US drone strike in a joint US-Afghan military operation in an eastern Afghan province, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan has claimed.“I can confirm that ISIS Khurasan leader Hafiz Saeed Khan along with his senior commanders and fighters died in a US drone strike on July 26 in Kot district of Afghanistan’s Nangharhar province,” Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal said Friday, according to Reuters.
The Islamic State (IS, Daesh, formerly ISIS/ISIL) branch leader was killed along with at least 23 other militant commanders in a US airstrike with support from the Afghan troops on the ground, Major General Mohammad Zaman Wazir said.
“At least 23 Daesh commanders, including the commander of Khurasan faction Hafiz Saeed, were killed in foreign troops’ drone strikes and their bodies are still there,” Wazir said, according to the Afghan Tolo TV news channel.
A US Defense Ministry official has confirmed that ISIS regional leader Hafiz Saeed Khan was killed in a drone strike on July 26, Reuters reported.
Khan is a former member of the Pakistani Taliban who pledged allegiance to IS in 2014. He is believed to be the mastermind behind the deadly attack in Kabul in July that left 80 people dead and 231 injured. Reports suggested that he was killed last year, but the information was never confirmed.
Khan’s death is the second killing of a prominent militant leader in the region in the recent months, with Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan in May.
In 2015 Khan was believed to have been killed in the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, a spokesman for the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) said at the time, but later the data turned out to be false.
A total of 300 Islamic State militants have been killed so far in the US-Afghan operation launched two weeks ago, a senior US and NATO commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday.