Kabul: The US-led NATO force in Afghanistan announced on Tuesday that al Qaeda`s second-highest leader in the South Asian country was killed in a weekend airstrike in eastern Kunar province.
Sakhr al-Taifi, also known as Mushtaq and Nasim, was responsible for commanding foreign insurgents in Afghanistan and directing attacks against NATO and Afghan forces, the alliance said. He frequently travelled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, carrying out commands from senior al Qaeda leadership and ferrying in weapons and fighters.
The airstrike that killed al-Taifi and another al Qaeda militant took place on Sunday in Kunar`s Watahpur district, the coalition said. A follow-on assessment of the area determined that no civilians were harmed, it said.
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan was carried out because al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden used the country as his base to plan the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.
Most of al Qaeda`s senior leaders are now believed to be based in Pakistan, where they fled following the US invasion. The terrorist organisation is believed to have only a nominal presence in Afghanistan.
Many senior al Qaeda commanders have died in US drone attacks in Pakistan`s northwest tribal region, and bin Laden was killed by US commandos in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad last May.
Bin Laden advised al Qaeda militants to leave Pakistan`s North and South Waziristan tribal areas because of the threat of drone attacks, according to letters seized from the compound where he was killed. The documents were later released by the US.
In one of the letters, bin Laden recommended they go to Afghanistan`s Kunar province because of "its rougher terrain; too many mountains, rivers, and trees that can accommodate hundreds of brothers without being spotted by the enemy," according to the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, which published the documents.
(With Agency inputs)