Senior Leader of Haqqani Network Killed in Afghan Airstrike

A senior leader of the Haqqani network, the Afghan militant group closely tied to Al Qaeda, was killed during an airstrike in Afghanistan, security officials said Wednesday.

Dilawar, who was only known by one name, and two of his associates were killed in the Musa Khel district of Khost province, about 155 miles south of Kabul on Tuesday, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed.

He coordinated numerous attacks against Afghan forces and helped move weapons along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, according to ISAF.

Dilawar, who was associated with both Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, also assisted in the movement of foreign fighters.

His death comes exactly one week after the capture of Haji Mali Khan, Afghanistan's lead Haqqani network leader, who was seized in the Jani Khel district of Paktiya.

In a statement ISAF, which stated that no civilians were harmed during the airstrike, said, "Prior to Mali Khan's capture by the combined Afghan and coalition security force, he worked closely with Dilawar planning attacks throughout the area. Specifically, Dilawar had just conducted an ambush on Afghan forces in Paktiya province last month."

"The death of Dilawar marks another significant milestone in the disruption of the Haqqani network in Afghanistan," the statement added.

The Haqqani network is regarded by American officials as an irredeemably violent militant and criminal network tied to Al Qaeda and supported by the Pakistani intelligence service.

Washington blames the Haqqani network for bringing a new level of violence to the Afghan insurgency and it is at the center of the deteriorating U.S. relationship with Pakistan. U.S. officials suspect the network was behind last month's 19-hour siege which targeted the U.S. embassy and ISAF headquarters in Kabul.

So far in 2011, security forces conducted more than 530 operations to disrupt the network's activities in eastern Afghanistan, leading to the death of 20 leaders and the capture of more than 1,400 suspected Haqqani insurgents.