Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who ordered the assassination of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and was responsible for the 2014 school massacre that killed 132 children, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kunar province, Afghanistan.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Radmanish, who spoke with AFP in a telephone interview on Friday, said Fazlullah and two other insurgents were killed early Thursday morning. According to a statement attributed to US Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col Martin O’Donnell, the US carried out a “counterterrorism strike” Thursday 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.
Fazlullah’s death would be welcome news in Pakistan, where the government has repeatedly complained that Fazlullah and his Tehrik-e-Taliban had found safe havens across the border in Afghanistan. Malala’s open call for girls’ education and criticism of the Taliban infuriated Fazlullah, who ordered her assasination when she was only 14.
She has often said that Fazlullah’s attempts to silence her backfired and instead he amplified her voice around the world. Malala, now 20, has since gone on to gain a place at Oxford University where she is studying Philosophy, Politics and, Economics.
Yousafzai returned to her hometown earlier this year, opening a school funded by a charity she established to promote girls education globally. She has often said that Fazlullah’s attempts to silence her backfired and instead he amplified her voice around the world.
A ruthless leader, Fazlullah also 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. His insurgent group, the Tehrik-e-Taliban, also took responsibility for the brutal attack on an Army Public School in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar in December 2014 when more than 140 children and their teachers were slaughtered.