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US, Afghan forces kill suspected mastermind of Sri Lankan team attack

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DERA ISMAIL KHAN: An alleged wanted mastermind of the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore was reportedly killed in Afghanistan, Afghan police officials and Taliban commanders claimed on Sunday.

A highly wanted militant linked to a number of high-profile attacks was killed in a joint Afghan-US special forces operation in eastern Afghanistan.

Qari Ajmal, allegedly responsible for several militant attacks in Pakistan, was killed in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, three Taliban commanders said.

The operation started at midnight and lasted until early Saturday morning, they said.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Ajmal, a leader of the banned Al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangi, was wanted for major attacks, most notably one on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 that killed six police officers and wounded seven players.

Paktika police Chief General Khalil Ziayee confirmed the operation, saying one militant was killed and three arrested. He gave no further details.

Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the US military spokesman in Afghanistan, also confirmed the operation but did not say which militants were targeted.

“Afghan and US forces did conduct a counter-terrorism operation in Paktika,” he said, but added that for security reasons “we do not discuss the details of counter-terror operations.”

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a sizable lawless border region, which serves as a safe haven for local and Al-Qaeda-linked foreign militants.

They routinely shuttle back and forth across the border to evade security forces.

However, Pakistan has recently improved its border management plan with gates on major crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan in a bid to check cross-border infiltration of militants.

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