The terrorist who is believed to be the mastermind behind Pakistan’s Army Public School massacre, which killed 144 children and staff, is believed to have been killed in a U.S. drone strike, according to senior Pakistani officials.
Umar Mansour, also known as Khalifa Mansour and Umar Naray, is believed to have been killed in a strike that also took the life of another terrorist leader, Qari Saifullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban’s suicide bombers. Both men belonged to the Pakistani Taliban’s Tariq Geedar group. The strike took place Saturday in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan.
“What we have is pretty credible,” said one of the officials to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper regarding the reports of the deaths of the two terrorists. Another official said that they were 90 percent sure Saifullah had been killed, but were not completely certain. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban branch, has yet to confirm Mansour’s death as of the writing of this article.
Mansour was the man behind the planning of the TTP attack on the Army Public School on December 16, 2014 which killed 122 students and 22 faculty and staff. It is widely considered one of the most high-profile terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent memory. Many, if not most, of the children killed belonged to members of Pakistan’s military and security services, prompting the Pakistani government to increase its counter-terrorism efforts. That said, it is no secret that the some members within the Pakistani intelligence service, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have maintained working relationship with elements belonging to the Taliban.
After the school massacre, Mansour was held responsible for a September 2015 attack on a Pakistan Air Force base in Peshawar, which killed 29 people. He is also believed to have been behind a second attack on Bacha Khan University in January 2016, which left 18 students and faculty dead. Syed Hamid Hussein, a professor at the university, died while defending his students during the attack.
Mansour escaped to Afghanistan after a Pakistani military operation took place in the Khyber tribal region on Pakistan’s western frontier before he was subsequently killed.
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