Top al-Qaeda leader killed in eastern Afghanistan: Officials

A senior al-Qaeda commander has been killed by Afghan security forces in the central city of Ghazni, security officials said.

The Afghan intelligence service confirmed in a tweet on Saturday that Abu Muhsin al-Masri had been killed by Afghan Special Forces in a recent operation.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said al-Masri was al-Qaeda’s number two commander for the Indian subcontinent.

The NDS did not immediately share more details.

Breaking news : as a result of NDS special force unit operation in ghazni province an al-Qaida key member for Indian sub contanint, Abu Muhsen Almisry were killed— NDS Afghanistan (@NDSAfghanistan) October 24, 2020

The senior al-Qaeda commander had been listed among the most wanted terrorists by the US Department of Justice since 2018.

In a statement Saturday, Director of the US National Counterterrorism Center Chris Miller confirmed al-Masri’s death, saying his removal “highlights the diminishing effectiveness of the terrorist organization.”

Al-Masri had been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to kill US nationals.

Media sources, citing the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said al-Masri was an Egyptian national who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf.

The FBI declined to comment on the news of al-Masri’s death.

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed some 200 al-Qaeda militants were still operating in Afghanistan.

In addition to al-Qaeda, other groups such as the Taliban and Daesh have militants in the war-torn country.

Afghanistan has been occupied by US-led foreign forces since 2001. Despite the occupation, many parts of the country remain plagued by violence and militancy.

Early this month, US President Donald Trump said American troops “should” be home from Afghanistan by Christmas.

The US military, however, has conditioned the pullout on a reduction of violence in the country and the status of peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul.

A bombing attack near an education center in Kabul killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens more on Saturday, officials said.

Most of the victims were students aged between 15 and 26, according to the Health Ministry.

Officials said security guards at the center spotted the bomber before he could enter the building. He detonated his explosives in the street.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.

Earlier on Saturday, a roadside bomb hit a passenger bus east of Kabul, killing nine civilians, including  women and children.

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