Fugitive Pakistani militant killed by bomb in Afghanistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A fugitive militant leader from Pakistan who carried a $3 million U.S. bounty for alleged terrorist activities was killed by a roadside bomb in neighboring Afghanistan along with two associates, an Afghan official said Friday.
The commander, Manghal Bagh, led an outlawed militant group called Lashkar-e-Islam, or Army of Islam. The group had frequently targeted Pakistani troops in the country’s northwest, bordering Afghanistan until the mid-2010s, when Pakistan undertook several military operations to clear the region of militants.
Bagh had been on the run until his death Thursday in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, the province’s governor, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, tweeted. The governor did not say who was behind the bombing that killed Bagh and his two companions, but said the militant leader had been involved in attacks in Afghanistan.
Washington announced the bounty for Bagh in 2018 over his alleged terrorist activities.
Bagh and his group had a strong presence in northwest Pakistan’s Tirah Valley until the authorities said the mountainous region was cleared of militants, including the Pakistani Taliban, remnants of al-Qaida and other groups. Since then, it was believed that Bagh was hiding in neighboring Afghanistan.
Northwestern Pakistan still sees sporadic attacks, mainly targeting security forces. Earlier this month, Pakistan’s military said it had nearly completed a fence along the border with Afghanistan, which it says is necessary to prevent militant attacks from both sides of the 2,611-kilometer (1,622-mile) border, known as the Durand Line.
Afghanistan has never recognized the border, which runs through the Pashtun heartland, diluting the power of Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group on both sides.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s counter-terrorism authorities said they arrested two separatists from the outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army in a raid Friday in eastern Punjab province.
According to officer Kamran Ahmed with the Counter-Terrorism Department in Punjab, the suspects — both from Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province — had plotted to target a passenger train.
Baluchistan has been the scene of a long-running insurgency by Baluch secessionist groups, such as the Baluchistan Liberation Army. The separatists have staged attacks on troops, trains and gas pipelines to press their demands for independence.
Associated Press writers Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Asim Tanveer in Multan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.