Senior Taleban Leader Killed in Afghanistan
23 December 2006
The US military says the coalition forces have killed a senior Taleban leader in Afghanistan. Officials describe Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani as a key figure in the Taleban's inner circle and a close associate of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. VOA's Benjamin Sand reports from Islamabad, Osmani's death is a notable breakthrough for coalition forces in Afghanistan.
US officials announced Saturday that the coalition forces had killed Osmani four days earlier during a precision air strike in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.
Thew coalition military spokesman Colonel Tom Collins says Osmani was major figure in the Taleban-led insurgency.
"Osmani was in charge of conducting and overseeing the military operations of the Taleban in southern Afghanistan so we think this is a very, very significant achievement in the fight against the Taleban," he noted.
He says Osmani and two other men were killed while driving across a deserted area near the border with Pakistan.
This has been one of the bloodiest years in Afghanistan since
US-led forces ousted the hardline Taleban regime in 2001.
More than 4,000 people have been killed with most of the fighting occurring in the south, in those areas reportedly under Osmani's command.
Colonel Collin's says US military had been tracking the Taleban leader for a while and his death will have an immediate impact on the insurgency.
"Osmani had been around for a long, long time, had developed many relationships and was very connected to the operations so now that he is gone it's going to take a while for the Taleban to regain that capability," he said.
He says Osmani played a central role in facilitating terrorist attacks in the region and maintained ties with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. A spokesman for Taleban has strongly denied the coaliton's reports.
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