US drone strike kills leader of Pakistan's Jamaat-ul-Ahrar militants: spokesman

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The leader of Pakistani militant group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, who planned some of the deadliest suicide bombings in Pakistan over the last year, died on Thursday of wounds sustained in a US drone strike in Afghanistan, a spokesman said.

“Our leader, Omar Khalid Khorasani, was wounded in one of the recent drone strikes in Afghanistan. He was wounded badly, and today he was martyred,” Asad Mansoor, a Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman, said by telephone.

The killing comes ahead of American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit next week and is likely to further ease tensions between the often-wary allies, as Islamabad has been asking Washington for years to target militants who attack inside Pakistan and then hide over the border in Afghanistan.

A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has in the past also backed Middle East-based Islamic State and has increasingly targeted religious minorities in Pakistan.

The group claimed responsibility for last year’s Easter Sunday bombing in a public park that killed 70 people, many of them Christians, in the eastern city of Lahore.