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Headline: Top Pakistani Militant Killed in U.S. Drone Strike

Omar Khalid Khorasani, the leader of the Pakistani Islamist militant group known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), has been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan conducted earlier this week, according to JuA’s spokesman. For two days, rumors had circulated that Khorasani had been wounded in U.S. drone strikes along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and on Thursday the group confirmed his death. The strike also killed nine other militants.

The Cipher Take:

JuA is a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is a separate and distinct organization from the Afghan Taliban and aims to overthrow the Pakistani government. TTP is responsible for conducting several large-scale attacks in Pakistan, such as the 2014 massacre at a military school in Peshawar, which killed more than 140 people, including 132 schoolchildren. The JuA faction has claimed responsibility for several high profile attacks inside Pakistan, including last year's Easter Sunday bombing of Christians in a park in Lahore that killed at least 70 people and an August 2016 attack on a hospital in Quetta that killed more than 70. In 2014, JuA pledged allegiance to ISIS but rejoined the Pakistani Taliban one year later. The death of Khalid comes on the heels of the Pakistani army freeing a family of 5 Westerners who had been held for five years by another militant group, the Haqqani network, and right before U.S. Secretary of States Rex Tillerson visits Pakistan.

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