ISPR, Nato clueless about Shahri killing in drone hit

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Army and NATO are not in knowledge of the reported killing of al-Qaeda operational chief, Abu Hafs al Shahri, in a drone hit in Wazirstan region this month. Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Athar Abbas, when approached by this newspaper on Friday, did not confirm this development, saying that Pakistan Army was not in knowledge of the reported killing of top al-Qaeda's terrorist, nor it heard of him. "Not confirmed," Abbas responded when asked if he could confirm if al-Qaeda terrorist was killed in a drone strike. According to foreign media, al-Qaeda leader identified as Abu Hafs al Shahri, a Saudi national and operational chief of al-Qaeda, was killed in North Waziristan Agency recently. Reports suggest that only drone hit in NWA this month had targeted four militants in Mir Ali and Shahri was one of them. The Washington Post quotes an unconfirmed report from a Pakistani intelligence official that Shahri was killed in a drone-hit on September 11. When telephonically approached by this paper, military spokesperson North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson in Kabul declined to comment on the issue, saying that he was not authorised to comment on drone-hits in Pakistan's northwestern parts. "It's way outside the realm of my official responsibilities to comment on an issue like this. You better get to the officials concerned at our headquarters," he said and refused to comment any further. Oana Lungescu, NATO spokesperson at headquarters in Brussels, said that she could not confirm the al-Qaeda operational chief killing in Afghanistan, as NATO was not in knowledge of this development. "We're gathering the necessary information on this and any confirmed details have not been arrived as yet. I can say anything after getting knowledge about the privy details," she said. The Western military alliance spokesperson said that NATO did not have any relevant information whether or not al Shahri was al-Qaeda's operational chief. "We can't say anything as of now," she told TheNation on Friday night (evening time in Brussels). Earlier on September 5, the ISPR stated that Pakistan's security forces arrested from Quetta, al-Qaeda external operations commander Younis Al Mauritani who was "mainly responsible for planning and conducting international operations" along with his two associates. "This operation was planned and conducted with technical assistance of United State intelligence agencies with whom Inter Services Intelligence has a strong, historic intelligence relationship," ISPR had said in a statement. Likewise al-Qaeda's No. 2, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, was reportedly killed in a drone hit in Waziristan last month.

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