KABUL: A Nato airstrike in eastern Afghanistan targeting a group of insurgents near the Pakistani border killed at least 13 militants including Taliban leader Maulvi Dadullah on Friday, the international military coalition said.

Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan confirmed that Amir of the Taliban in Bajaur, Maulvi Dadullah had been killed in the Nato strike along with 12 other militants.

Dadullah reportedly took over after Bajur's former Pakistani Taliban leader, Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, fled to Afghanistan to avoid Pakistani army operations.

He had reportedly claimed responsibility for last year's kidnapping of 30 children who had mistakenly crossed the Pak-Afghan border and also on many attacks against security forces and government installations.

Ahsanullah Ahsan while talking to DawnNews exclusively said that Maulvi Abu Bakr had been appointed the caretaker Amir of the TTP.

The TTP spokesman added that the Taliban had plans to attack high profile targets in the country but refused to give further details on the pretext of security concerns.

It added that Dadullah's deputy, identified only as Shakir, was also killed in the strike.

The strike in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province killed Maulvi Dadullah, the self-proclaimed Taliban leader in Pakistan's Bajur tribal area that lies across the border, late Friday afternoon, coalition spokesman Maj Martyn Crighton said.

Crighton would not say whether an unmanned drone or manned aircraft had launched the missiles.

Pakistani intelligence officials said Dadullah and 19 others were killed in the attack. Initially, they said the strike was on Pakistani territory, but later they conceded it was in Afghanistan.

Conflicting reports out of the rugged and remote regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border are common shortly after an attack.

Kunar provincial official Aslam Gul Mujahid said the airstrike killed 20 people, including Dadullah.

It was unclear whether Pakistani and coalition officials coordinated the strike or whether Nato fired on the militants after noticing activity on the border.

However, Crighton said there was no coordination between Pakistani and coalition military leaders on the airstrike. ''This was an independent operation and not associated with any others,'' he said.

Zahir Shah Sherazi contributing to reporting for the story



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