The leader of Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been killed by a US drone strike, a Pentagon spokesman has said, Sky News reports.The hit on Hafiz Saeed Khan took place in Nangharhar province, eastern Afghanistan.
Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal told Reuters: “I can confirm that ISIS Khurasan leader Hafiz Saeed Khan along with his senior commanders and fighters died in a US drone strike on July 26 in Kot district of Afghanistan’s Nangharhar province.”
Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge confirmed Khan’s death, and said in a statement that the air strike took place during joint operations by U.S. and Afghan special operations forces against IS. Mr Trowbridge said the airstrike was in Achin district, as opposed to Kot district.
Khan, a former member of the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, had sworn allegiance to Middle East-based Islamic State. He was earlier reported killed last year but the death was never confirmed. If confirmed, Khan’s death would strike a blow to efforts by Middle East-based Islamic State to expand its territory and its jihadist push into Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It would be the second death of a prominent jihadist in the region in months. Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed by a US airstrike strike in Pakistan in May. Islamic State are rivals to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.