PESHAWAR - An air strike has killed an Afghan Taliban commander who twice oversaw the capture of a strategic northern city, officials said Monday, in a major blow to the insurgent group.

Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund, the Taliban shadow governor in Kunduz province who had been declared dead several times in the past, was killed on Sunday when he was holding a meeting in the volatile Dasht-e-Archi district.

“He was killed with five others in the house,” provincial governor Asadullah Amarkhil told AFP.

The Taliban acknowledged the death of “the conquerer of Kunduz”, saying he was killed in a “cowardly attack by US invaders”.

Mullah Akhund was one of three fighters killed in a weekend strike by an unmanned aircraft, a senior Taliban official in the province told Reuters, on condition of anonymity to ensure his safety.

“He was on a journey a few days ago and stopped at a house at Dashte Archi town when drone fired missiles,” said the official.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also confirmed Akhund’s death in a statement.

A Taliban commander in the eastern province of Khost said, “It’s part of our life… We are proud to confirm that he (Akhund) was martyred for a cause.”

A US military spokesman said an American warplane had conducted a strike in Kunduz on Sunday, but the command did “not have confirmation of the results”.

Akhund had led the insurgents to mount several attacks in Kunduz since 2011.

The Taliban seized the provincial capital Kunduz city for about two weeks in September 2015, in their biggest victory since they were toppled from national power by a US-led invasion in 2001.

The militants briefly overran the city again in October last year before they were beaten back by Nato-backed Afghan forces.

 

Key Taliban commander

killed in drone strike