Afghan forces have killed a top al-Qaeda militant wanted by the United States as the government on Sunday accused the Taliban of still having close ties to the Islamist militant group.
Abu Muhsin al-Masri, an Egyptian citizen believed to be the second group on the Indian subcontinent, was targeted at the eastern Ghazni province, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said in a statement.
The National Security Directorate did not provide further details on the operation or when it was carried out.
Masri’s killing was an indication of the relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda, Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi claimed on Sunday without giving details.
“The killing of one of the most important members of al-Qaida, al-Masri of the National Security Directorate, demonstrates close ties between the Taliban and the terrorist groups operating against the Afghan government and its people,” he tweeted.
“They still maintain close ties with the terrorist groups, and they lie to different sides.”
The Taliban’s cover of al Qaeda was the original cause of the US invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In a milestone agreement between the United States and the Taliban in February, the Taliban agreed not to allow Afghan soil to be used by foreign extremists, including al Qaeda, in return for Washington withdrawing its troops.
Al-Masri, also known as Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.
A U.S. arrest warrant for his arrest was issued in December 2018 after he was accused of providing support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and planning to kill U.S. citizens, according to the FBI.
A source from the Afghan intelligence agency, who did not want to be named, told AFP that an al-Masri assistant who was “in contact with the Taliban” was also detained during the operation in Ghazni province, an unstable region where the Taliban -warriors are very active.
The death toll from the Kabul training center’s attacks is rising
Meanwhile, on Sunday, the number of deaths due to a bomb blast claimed by the Islamic State group at a higher education center in Kabul rose to 24 – most students.
Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said another 57 people were injured in Saturday’s attack on the center of the capital’s western district.
Students were seen Sunday morning rescuing books from nearby homes that were also damaged during the blast.
Residents of several districts in western Kabul belong to the minority of Shiite Hazara communities and are often targeted by Sunni extremists from the IS group.
Violence is raging in Afghanistan as peace talks continue in Qatar between the Taliban and the Afghan government in an attempt to end the country’s protracted war.
( Jowharwith AFP)