PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The lawyer for the Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. track down al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was shot dead on Tuesday, local police and a close friend of the victim told NBC News.
“Samiullah Afridi was on his way home in Peshawar when armed men approached his car and opened fire at him. He received two bullets and died on the spot,” said Qamar Nadim, a close friend and fellow lawyer. Local police confirmed the shooting.
Samiullah Afridi represented Dr. Shakil Afridi, who American officials credit with helping find bin Laden's compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad before the 2011 raid by U.S. special forces that killed the al-Qaeda leader.
A Taliban splinter militant group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), said it was behind the killing.
"We proudly claim responsibility for killing Samiullah Afridi. He was representing Dr. Shakil Afridi who had spied on our beloved mujahid leader Sheikh Osama for the CIA," Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman of TTP-JA, told NBC News. "We knew he had stopped representing his case but had provided a base for Dr. Shakil Afridi's case."
Samiullah Afridi started receiving anonymous threats after representing the doctor in court and briefly fled the country but could not afford to live abroad and eventually returned home, his friend Nadim said. The lawyer stopped representing the Dr. Shakil Afridi last year.
Dr. Shakil Afridi was jailed in 2012 for running a false vaccination campaign believed to have helped the CIA track down bin Laden. The doctor’s 33-year jail sentence was overturned in 2013 and he is currently in jail awaiting a new trial.
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— Mushtaq Yusufzai
Reuters contributed to this report.