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U.S. Says Top Haqqani Leader Was Killed In Drone Strike

The Associated Press along with other news organizations are reporting that a top leader of the Haqqani network has been killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

The AP pins the news of Janbaz Zadran's death on a "senior American official," and MSNBC reports that "local intelligence officials" also confirmed the news.

The Haqqani network has been in the news lately, because the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen blamed the extremist group for the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, the Sept. 10 truck bomb that killed five Afghans and the Sept. 13 attack against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Mullen also said the Pakistani government had ties with the group.

The AP adds more detail on Zadran's death:

U.S. officials say Zadran's death makes him the most senior Haqqani leader in Pakistan to be taken off the battlefield. The officials said Zadran helped the Haqqani network orchestrate attacks on troops in Kabul and southeastern Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Zadran had access to Haqqani's leadership in Miram Shah. He served as a key lieutenant to Haqqani network commander Badruddin Haqqani. In May, the U.S. designated Badruddin Haqqani a terrorist. He's the son of the group's founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to the State Department.

The AFP reports that 10 militants were killed in the attack, Zadran among them. The strikes were also launched the same day that "American envoy Marc Grossman held talks with Pakistani leaders on strengthening their fragile alliance in the war on terror."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.