US, Afghan forces kill Sri Lanka cricket team attack leader

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) " A Pakistani militant linked to a number of high-profile attacks was killed in a joint Afghan-U.S. special forces operation in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan police officials and Taliban commanders said Sunday.

Qari Ajmal, allegedly responsible for several militant attacks in Pakistan, was killed in Afghanistan's Paktika province, three Taliban commanders said. The operation started at midnight and lasted until early Saturday morning, they said. All three spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Ajmal, a leader of the banned al-Qaida-linked Pakistani sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangi, was wanted for major attacks, most notably one on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009 that killed six police officers and wounded seven players.

Paktika police chief Gen. Khalil Ziayee confirmed the operation, saying one militant was killed and three arrested. He gave no further details.

Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, also confirmed the operation but did not say which militants were targeted. "Afghan and U.S. forces did conduct a counter-terrorism operation in Paktika," he said, but added that for security reasons "we do not discuss the details of counter-terror operations."

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a sizable lawless border region, which serves as a safe haven for local and al-Qaida-linked foreign Islamic militants. They routinely shuttle back and forth across the border to evade security forces.

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Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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