The chief of Al-Qaeda’s South Asian branch was killed in a US-Afghan joint raid in southern Afghanistan last month, according to Afghan officials on Tuesday.
Asim Umar, who led Al- Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent from its inception in 2014, was killed during a raid September 23 on a Taliban compound in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.
Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security tweeted, “#NDS can now confirm the death of Asim Omar, leader of #Al_Qaeda in the #Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), in a joint US-Afghan raid on a Taliban compound in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sep. 23.”
“Omar, a #Pakistani citizen, was #killed along with six other AQIS members, most of them Pakistani. Among them was Raihan, Omar’s courier to Ayman #Al_Zawahiri. They had been embedded inside the Taliban compound in the #Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala,” Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security further tweeted.
The raid was part of a lengthy and confusing overnight operation on September 22-23, for which the United States provided air support.
Authorities said they would investigate reports that 40 civilians, including children, were killed in an airstrike 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.
An Afghan Taliban source said in 2014 that Umar had for some years worked with the Punjabi Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chapter in Pakistan’s most populous province, before linking up with Al-Qaeda.
A Pakistani intelligence official also said Umar had travelled to Syria, though it was not possible to confirm this.
(With AFP inputs)