Pakistani Taleban leader who masterminded 2009 attack on Sri Lankan cricket team killed in Afghanistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Afghan security forces have killed a senior member of the Pakistani Taleban accused of masterminding a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, militant sources said on Monday (Oct 10).

Qari Ajmal, a leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian group that allied with the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan, died in a raid carried out by Afghan and Nato forces in Afghanistan's Paktika province that began late on Friday (Oct 7) and continued into Saturday (Oct 8), a Taleban commander said.

"Qari Ajmal along with other fellow Taleban fighters have been killed in a clash with Afghan and Nato troops," a second commander added.

Ajmal had been sought in Pakistan for planning a March 2009 gun and grenade attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in Lahore, killing six policemen and two civilians and injuring seven cricketers.

The attack resulted in the suspension of all international cricket in Pakistan and forced the national team to play its home matches at neutral venues such as the United Arab Emirates.

Both Taleban sources said Ajmal was also involved in attacks against Pakistani troops and police.

Khalilullah Ziaee, the provincial police chief of Paktika, confirmed that "three terrorists had been captured and one killed" in an operation by Afghan commandos.

"These terrorists were Pakistani nationals," Chief Ziaee said, adding it was not possible to identify them by name at this stage.

A Nato spokesman also confirmed that Afghan and US forces conducted a counter-terrorism operation in Paktika on Saturday.

Ajmal was the second senior Pakistani Taleban leader to be killed in recent weeks in Afghanistan.

Taleban commander Raeas Khan, who was also known as Azam Khan Tariq, was killed along with at least 10 other militants in Paktika in late September.