A wanted Taliban insurgent leader in Afghanistan, Mullah Brother, was killed Thursday in a U.S.-led raid in the southern province of Helmand, the Afghan Defense Ministry said, citing ground commanders.
Brother served as a top military commander for the Taliban government until its removal from power in 2001 and was a member of the movement’s leadership council led by its fugitive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Mullah is a title for a Muslim cleric that many senior Taliban use. It was not clear if the name Brother, which other Taliban leaders have used to refer to him, was a nom de guerre.
Taliban members were not immediately available for comment and there was no independent verification of the ministry report.
The raid was launched after Taliban insurgents ambushed an Afghan army convoy between Sangin and Sarwan districts of Helmand, the ministry said in a statement.
‘Brother was on the black list’
Air support from U.S.-led troops was called in, said ministry spokesman, Zahir Azimi.
“He was killed, probably in ground fighting,” he said.
“Brother was on the black list,” Azimi said referring to a wanted U.S. list involving Taliban leaders and al-Qaida members.
If confirmed, Brother’s killing would represent another blow to the Taliban insurgency which has had several of its top leaders either killed or arrested in the past nine months.
Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban’s top operational commander in southern Afghanistan, was killed in May.
In December, U.S.-led forces killed another top Taliban official, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Osmani, in an air attack in the south of the country after a tip-off by Pakistan.
But several previous Afghan government reports of the arrest or killing of top Taliban commanders have turned out to be erroneous.
In a separate incident, a British soldier and a civilian interpreter were killed in a blast on Thursday while on patrol in the southern province of Kandahar, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said.