Tahir for tat: NATO kills Taliban chief linked to copter disaster

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U.S. Army photo

NATO reports it has killed the Taliban commander targeted in an operation last month in which 38 US and Afghan troops died in a helicopter crash.

“A precision air strike killed Taliban leader Qari Tahir after the security force located Tahir and an associate in a dry riverbed in Sayd Abad district,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

“Tahir was the Taliban’s top leader in Tangi Valley and was the target of a previous combined operation on Aug. 5, 2011, that resulted in the loss of the CH-47 Chinook last month.

The US helicopter crash killed 38 people including 30 US troops, 25 of whom were special forces.

Days after the crash, General John Allen, the US commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, said those who shot the helicopter down had been hunted down and killed in a bombing raid by an F-16 fighter jet.

Last month, a senior Afghan government official told AFP that Tahir lured U.S. forces to the scene by tipping them off that a Taliban meeting was taking place.

He also said four Pakistanis helped Tahir carry out the strike.

“Now it’s confirmed that the helicopter was shot down and it was a trap that was set by a Taliban commander,” said the official, citing intelligence gathered from the area.

“The Taliban knew which route the helicopter would take,” he added.

“That’s the only route, so they took position on the either side of the valley on mountains and as the helicopter approached, they attacked it with rockets and other modern weapons. It was brought down by multiple shots.”

The official, who spoke anonymously as he was not authorized to discuss the issue, also said President Hamid Karzai’s U.S.-backed government “thinks” the attack was retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

[via UK Telegraph, BBC, AFP]
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