KOHAT: Mangal Bagh, the fugitive head of the outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, was killed in a US drone attack in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan along with his two close aides, intelligence sources said on Sunday.
The sources said Mangal Bagh had reportedly sustained injuries when a drone struck a compound in the mountainous Bandar Khudi Khola area in Nangarhar during the small hours of July 23. The sources maintained that the LI chief later succumbed to his injuries.
“Two of his close aides were also killed and a third one was injured in the precise drone strike,” the sources claimed.
He was reportedly provided medical assistance in the Bandar area of Nangarhar, but later succumbed to his injuries, the sources added.
Sources in the intelligence agencies and among the Taliban confirmed his death. However, the Lashkar-e-Islam denied the reports about the death of its chief.
The government had placed a bounty of Rs20 million on the head of Mangal Bagh, who for several years was based in the Khyber Agency and ran his private prison and court. He belonged to the Sepah Afridi tribe and hailed from Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency.
In the past, Mangal Bagh had been serving as a conductor and driver of a passenger bus plying between Peshawar and Bara.
In an interview with The News once, he said he was a transporter plying buses between his native Bara and Peshawar. He was also accused of kidnapping people for ransom and demanding extortion money.
Mangal Bagh and his men had fled to Afghanistan after the security forces launched a military operation against the militants, first in Bara and then in the Tirah Valley.
His fighters carried out cross-border attacks from his bases in Afghanistan against the security forces in Pakistan. There were reports that he had made an agreement with the newly-emerged Islamic State (IS) or Daesh militants in Afghanistan to cooperate with each other. Both Lashkar-e-Islam and the IS fighters are based in districts of Nangarhar located near the border with Pakistan.
Some years ago he had also sustained injuries in fighting in Bara Tehsil and had to be shifted to Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, for treatment.According to the sources, the leaders of Lashkar-e-Islam have called an emergency meeting to take stock of the situation arising out of the killing of Mangal Bagh.
The US has intensified drone attacks against the militants in the border areas of Afghanistan.On July 10, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander and mastermind of the Army Public School and Bacha Khan University attacks, Khalifa Umar Mansoor alias Naray alias Aurangzeb, had also been killed in the Bandar area of Nangarhar.
Initially, the TTP denied the reports but confirmed his death after a few days when it became obvious that the dreaded and most wanted militant commander had been killed.
Two days ago, a Shura (council) of the TTP selected Mufti Muhammad Iqbal aka Mufti Ghufranullah as its new head in place of Umar Mansoor.
The sources said Mufti Ghufranullah would lead the TTP to carry out terror activities in Kohat, Peshawar, Frontier Region Peshawar, Darra Adamkhel, Attock, Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions.