Islamabad: The mastermind of the 2014 Peshawar school massacre has been reportedly killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan. According to a report in Pakistan’s Dawn news website Umar Mansour, who also used two aliases Khalifa Mansour and Umar Naray, was killed along with another top terrorist Qari Saifullah in the drone attack in the Bandar area of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Saturday.
At least 144 students, teachers and staff members were killed when seven terrorists belonging to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Mansour had taken responsibility for the massacre and warned of more such attacks.
The school had been targeted as most of its students are the sons and daughter of Pakistani Army personnel. According to TTP the attack was intended as a strong warning to the Pakistani Army to not target the terror group.
Dawn quoted a security official as saying that they had credible reports of Mansour and Saifullah being killed in the attack. “What we have is pretty credible,” the unnamed official said. But another official claimed that it was not clear if Saifullah, who was in-charge of suicide bombers, was also among those killed.
While one official said there were 90% chances that he too had been killed along with Mansour, another official said they were still trying to figure out whether he was there on the spot when the drone struck.
The US State Department had on May 25 designated Mansour a global terrorist, thus clearing the path for his inclusion in the hit-list. The State Department’s announcement came four days after a drone strike killed Afghan Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour in Balochistan on May 21.
A security official at the time had denied there was any quid pro quo between the two countries. But there is neither any official confirmation from the banned TTP nor any independent source corroborating Mansour’s death, the Dawn reported.