Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Mullah Fazlullah killed in a drone strike

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah was purportedly killed in a drone strike in the Nangarhar region of Afghanistan, reports in the Pakistani media said on Monday.

Several Pakistani television channels and websites reported about the death of Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio, late on Monday night though there was no official word on the development.

There have been reports of Fazlullah being killed in a drone strike several times in the past, the most recent being in 2014, but they were all proved to be wrong.

The Pajhwok Afghan News agency said on its Twitter feed that Afghan officials had confirmed the killing of Taliban commander Qari Hedayatullah in a drone attack but there were “no reports” of the killing of Fazlullah.

Fazlullah took over as chief of the TTP after Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in 2013. Hakimullah’s predecessor Baitullah Mehsud too was killed in a drone strike in 2009.

The reports in the Pakistani media said Fazlullah was purportedly killed when a drone targeted his residence in Afghanistan. Some reports said five people were killed in the attack, including a woman, though they could not be independently confirmed.

Fazlullah rose to prominence as the head of the Taliban in the Swat valley, located a little more than 120 km from Islamabad. His fighters took control of the area and killed scores of Pakistani security personnel and tribal elders who opposed the Taliban.

He became known as “Mullah Radio” for his fiery broadcasts on an illegal FM radio station. After he became the TTP chief, he fled to Afghanistan after the Pakistan Army launched an offensive against his fighters in the country’s northwest.

Fazlullah also ordered the 2012 attempt on the life of rights activist Malala Yousufzai, who was 14 years at the time