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Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar leader killed in US drone strike in Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This screen grab taken from a video recording shows Umar Khalid Khorasani, the leader of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) militant group.

The leader of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), an offshoot of the country’s Taliban militant group, has been killed in a US drone strike in neighboring Afghanistan.

The JuA spokesman said Thursday that Umar Khalid Khorasani was killed after succumbing to injuries he received in a US drone attack.

“Chief of our Jamaat-ul-Ahrar Umar Khalid Khorasani, who sustained serious injuries in a recent US drone strike in Afghanistan's Paktia province, succumbed to his injuries Wednesday evening,” said Asad Mansoor, adding, “At least nine close associates of Khorasani were also killed in the strike.”

On Monday, a total of 26 people, including several members of the notorious Haqqani network, had been killed in US drone strikes that targeted tribal regions along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Haqqani is allied to the Taliban in Afghanistan while the JuA is linked to the al-Qaeda and is an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban.

The JuA said the group’s leadership would soon meet to appoint a new chief for the outfit. Other sources within the Pakistani Taliban said, however, that Asad Afridi, a JuA senior commander, had already been appointed to the job.

Many children were killed in a JuA bombing attack in a park in Lahore on Easter Sunday last year, which left a total of 75 people dead. The group has been behind many other terror attacks in Pakistan over the past years. It pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in 2014, but withdrew its support for the outfit a year later and remained allied to the Pakistani Taliban, a partner of al-Qaeda.

Some recent intelligence reports suggest the JuA and Daesh have been cooperating in several areas in Pakistan, including in those populated by Shia Muslims. The two both claimed an attack on a hospital that killed 73 people in the city of Quetta last year.

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