By Ed Johnson, Bloomberg
Sydney: The death of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban’s top military commander in Afghanistan, is a “serious blow” to the insurgency, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said in a statement.
Dadullah was killed two days ago in southern Afghanistan in a military operation by the US-led coalition and supported by NATO troops, the alliance said, confirming an announcement yesterday by the Afghan government.
“He has been responsible for the deaths of many Afghans” and trained and deployed suicide bombers across the South Asian nation, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in an e-mail. “Mullah Dadullah will most certainly be replaced in time, but the insurgency has received a serious blow.”
Dadullah is one of the highest-ranking Taliban leaders to be killed since the regime was ousted by a US-led coalition in 2001. Taliban supporters are fighting a guerrilla war in Afghanistan in an effort to destabilize the government of President Hamid Karzai.
Afghan authorities presented Dadullah’s corpse to journalists in the southern city of Kandahar yesterday as proof of his death, AFP reported.
He was killed in the Girishk area of southern Helmand province, the news agency reported, citing the Interior Ministry.
Helmand is the centre of the country’s opium production. The United Nations says the opium trade, worth about $3 billion a year, is helping finance the insurgency.
NATO is leading international efforts to quell the Taliban insurgency and rebuild the country’s infrastructure, which was shattered by more than 25 years of conflict and civil war. The alliance has about 37,000 soldiers, drawn from 37 countries, including about 15,000 US personnel.
A US force of 10,000 soldiers leads anti-terrorism operations in the country, including the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The rebels have about 3,000 fighters, Major General David Rodriguez, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said last month.