Kabul, Oct 9 : The leader of Al-Qaeda's South Asian branch, Asim Umar, was killed in a US-Afghan joint raid in southern Afghanistan last month, Afghan officials have confirmed.
Asim Umar, who led Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) from its inception in 2014, was killed during a raid on September 23 on a Taliban compound in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, said the media reports.
The Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security said Umar was a Pakistani citizen, though some reports claim he was born in India. He "was #killed along with six other AQIS members, most of them Pakistani", the NDS said on Twitter, adding that Umar had been "embedded" with the Taliban.
The raid was part of a lengthy and confusing overnight operation from September 22-23 for which the US provided air support.
Authorities said they would investigate reports that 40 civilians, including children, were killed in an air strike during the operation. The NDS said that among the six other AQIS members killed in the raid was a man identified as "Raihan", a courier for Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.US Forces-Afghanistan declined to comment.
Under a stalled withdrawal plan negotiated between the US and the Taliban, Washington agreed to pull troops from Afghanistan if the insurgents abide by security guarantees and cut all ties with Al-Qaeda. In the meanwhile, the Taliban has refuted the reports that a leader of al-Qaeda had been killed during Afghan forces’ operation in the province of Helmand as "propaganda," which was allegedly meant to conceal "heavy civilian losses" inflicted by the attack.
On Tuesday, the Afghan National Directorate of Security said that the leader of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent had been eliminated in an Afghan-US raid on a Taliban compound in Helmand on September 23.
"Officials of the stooge Kabul administration claimed to have killed a leader associated with Al Qaeda organisation during the raid and bombing of a wedding in Musa Kala district, Helmand. We categorically reject this claim by Kabul officials and consider it a part of enemy fabricated propaganda," the Taliban said in a statement, posted on Tuesday.
According to the movement, the truth is that the operation only caused "heavy civilian losses."
The Taliban have been fighting the Afghan government for years. The radical movement has also been accused of harboring terrorists on the territory it controls.