The U.S. State Department is offering a five-million-dollar reward for information leading to Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah.
The U.S. also announced a three-million-dollar reward each for two other senior leaders of militias linked to the Pakistani Taliban.
The move is seen as another attempt by Washington to defuse tensions with the Pakistani government.
The State Department then said it would freeze almost all U.S. security assistance to the country.
Pakistani political and military leaders have been demanding that international and Afghan security forces take tougher action against Fazlullah’s group, which is currently based in Afghanistan.
The reward offers, announced on Thursday, come after a suspected U.S. drone strike killed no fewer than 21 would-be suicide bombers, including a son of Fazlullah, at a training camp in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province.
Fazlullah rose to prominence when he ordered the attack on the world’s youngest Noble Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, in 2012.
He was elevated to lead the Pakistani Taliban in 2013 after the death of his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike.
The reward for Abdul Wali, alias Omer Khorasani, the leader of Jamaat ul Ahrar faction of the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam group chief Mangal Bagh was also announced in the statement on Thursday.
NAN reports that on Thursday, 20 militants were believed to have been killed in an American drone strike on a compound said to have been used by Fazlullah.
The strike was carried out in a remote area of Kunar province in Afghanistan and the dead are believed to include the leader’s son and senior commanders.
One of them, Qari Yaseen, is believed to have trained suicide bombers.
The U.S. did not comment but Pakistani officials claimed that the strike was helped by intelligence from Islamabad.
The incident comes amid fraught relations with the U. S. as President Trump piles pressure on Islamabad to act against terrorist havens within its borders. (dpa/NAN)
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