By Jason Straziuso
December 24, 2006
KABUL, Afghanistan — A U.S. air strike near the Pakistan border killed
the Taliban’s southern military commander, an associate of Osama bin
Laden and heir to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, U.S. and Afghan
officials said yesterday.
Akhtar Mohammed Osmani’s vehicle was hit by a U.S. air strike
Tuesday as he traveled in a deserted area in the southern province of
Helmand, the spokesman said. Two of his associates also were killed.
U.S. and Afghan officials said the strike was a major victory.
Rashid, a leading author on the Taliban, said Osmani’s
death could disrupt planning for a Taliban offensive early next year,
designed to extend the recent surge of violence across Afghanistan.
Osmani played an instrumental role in some of the Taliban’s
most notorious excesses — including the demolition of the ancient
Buddha statues in Bamiyan and the trial of Christian aid workers in
2001, Mr. Rashid said.
He also was one of three top associates of Mullah Omar, and
among the first supporters of bin Laden within the militant Islamic
militia’s top ranks, Mr. Rashid said.
A Taliban spokesman denied that Osmani was dead, but a
provincial police chief and Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry confirmed
the killing. Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary called it “a
A U.S. spokesman said the death was confirmed through multiple sources.
Merry Christmas Osama.
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