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South Asia region Al-Qaeda chief killed in Afghanistan: officials

KABUL: The leader of Al-Qaeda´s South Asian branch was killed in a US-Afghan joint raid in southern Afghanistan last month, Afghan officials confirmed Tuesday.

Asim Umar, who led Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) from its inception in 2014, was killed during a raid September 23 on a Taliban compound in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province.

The Afghan Taliban denied that Umar had died, calling the report “enemy fabricated propaganda” meant to hide having hit a wedding party that had “only caused heavy civilian losses”.

“Tens of ordinary civilian Afghans including those participating in a wedding ceremony” were killed and wounded, it said in an English-language statement published by SITE Intelligence, which monitors  insurgents activities worldwide.

Authorities said they would investigate reports that 40 civilians, including children, were killed in an airstrike during the operation.

US Forces-Afghanistan declined to comment.

Under a stalled withdrawal plan negotiated between the United States and the Taliban, Washington agreed to pull troops from Afghanistan if the insurgents abided by security guarantees and cut all ties with Al-Qaeda.

The United States and the Taliban had been negotiating for a year to reach a deal that would have cut US forces in Afghanistan and may have paved the way to a reduction in violence, but President Donald Trump scuttled that agreement last month, citing Taliban violence

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