ISLAMABAD: Afghan Ambassador to Islamabad Dr Omar Zakhilwal on Friday confirmed the regional chief of Islamic State militant group Hafiz Saeed Khan has been killed in a joint US-Afghan operation.
“Yes, I can confirm that Hafiz Saeed Khan has been killed,” Ambassador Zakhilwal told Peshawar-based Pashto Mashriq television during an interview. The interview will be aired on August 14.
The Afghan envoy stated the Da’ish leader was killed in a US drone strike on July 26, 2016 with the ground support of Afghan forces. Further, a top Afghan security official in Kabul also confirmed the killing of the regional chief.
“At least 23 Dai’sh commanders, including the commander of Khurasan faction Hafiz Saeed, were killed in foreign troops’ drone strikes and their bodies are still there,” commander of the 201 Selab Corps Major General Mohammad Zaman Wazir said, according to Tolo TV.
However, the United States and Da’ish have failed to comment on the latest claims by Afghan officials. Afghan security officials had previously claimed that Khan was killed in a US drone strike on July 11, 2015, which later proved to be false.
An Afghan source in Nangarhar province said that Khan was killed with several other Da’ish militants in Kot district, which was considered a stronghold of the group.
In October 2014 Khan led a group of five senior TTP leaders to jump ship and swear allegiance to Baghdadi. A few days after Khan had parted ways with the Taliban, a TTP leader told The Express Tribune that the militant leader was considered a hardliner among the terrorist group, as he had been pushing for a more sectarian agenda.
Abubakr Al Baghdadi had appointed Khan commander for the Khorasan province which comprises of Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of Iran and Central Asian states.
Under Khan’s leadership, the group staged a series of attacks including their first ever deadliest attack in Kabul last month, killing about 80 people belonging to the Hazara community.
The group had also attacked the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad in January this year, killing seven Afghan security personnel.