U.S. Drone Strike Kills Leader of Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar Terrorists

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) -
A forensic officer looking for evidence at the site of a blast that happened outside a public park on Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan, March 28, 2016. (Reuters/Mohsin Raza, File)

The leader of Pakistani terrorist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, who planned some of the deadliest suicide bombings in Pakistan over the last year, died on Thursday of wounds sustained in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan, a spokesman said.

“Our leader, Omar Khalid Khorasani, was wounded in one of the recent drone strikes in Afghanistan. He was wounded badly, and today he was martyred,” Asad Mansoor, a Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman, said by telephone.

The killing comes ahead of American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit next week and is likely to further ease tensions between the often-wary allies, as Islamabad has been asking Washington for years to target terrorists who attack inside Pakistan and then hide over the border in Afghanistan.

A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has in the past also backed Middle East-based Islamic State and has increasingly targeted religious minorities in Pakistan.

The group claimed responsibility for a bombing in a public park last March that killed 70 people, many of them Christians, in the eastern city of Lahore.