Taliban commander killed after US chopper crash

KABUL — A Taliban commander who was the target of an operation last month in which 30 US troops died in a helicopter crash has been killed in an air strike, the NATO-led force in Afghanistan said on Thursday.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2011, 4:41 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:54 AM

Qari Tahir was killed in an air strike Tuesday in Wardak province, central Afghanistan, six weeks after the helicopter crash caused the biggest single loss of life for foreign forces in ten years of war.

Washington has said it had killed those behind the helicopter’s downing, but a senior Afghan government official told AFP that it was Tahir who had lured US forces to the scene by tipping them off about a Taliban meeting.

“Tahir... was the target of a previous combined operation on Aug. 5, 2011, that resulted in the loss of the CH-47 Chinook last month,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

“He led a group of insurgent fighters throughout the valley and was known to use roadside bombs and rockets to intimidate the local populace.”

The US helicopter was shot down killing 38 people including 30 US troops, 25 of whom were special forces.

Many of the victims belonged to the US Navy’s “Team Six”, the special forces unit that killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his Pakistani hideout in May. Sources said they were not part of the team that killed the 9/11 mastermind.

Days after the crash, General John Allen, the US commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, said that those who shot the Chinook down had been hunted down and killed in a bombing raid by an F-16 fighter jet.

This claim was denied by the Taliban and a senior Afghan government official told AFP that it was Tahir who was responsible for luring US forces to the scene.

Speaking anonymously, he said Tahir had set a trap for the aircraft to be shot down.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta responded to the crash, which raised doubts over the international mission in Afghanistan, by vowing to “stay the course”.

The fatal operation had been targeting the leadership of an “enemy network” within the remote and hostile Tangi Valley, southwest of the capital Kabul, Allen said.

The Afghan police and army have struggled to counter the Taliban in the Tangi valley, according to officials and local people, with insurgents controlling the area.

There are around 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, about 100,000 of them from the US, fighting a Taliban-led insurgency.

All foreign combat forces are due to leave in staged withdrawals leading up to a deadline at the end of 2014, at which point Afghan security forces will assume responsibility for their country.

A string of recent spectacular attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul in recent months has highlighted the strength of the insurgency.

They include Tuesday’s assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, a former president tasked with leading Afghan government efforts to talk peace with the Taliban, who was killed by a man with explosives hidden in his turban.

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