A militant leader blamed for high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, including last year's 20-hour attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, has been killed, an Afghan official said Sunday.
Badruddin Haqqani was a leader of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban-affiliated group that operates from North Waziristan in Pakistan. His father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founded the group.
Haqqani was killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan sometime before Friday, said Shafiquallh Tahriri, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security. Evidence gathered afterward shows that he was killed, said Tahriri.
The Taliban denied the reports, saying Haqqani is alive and in good health in Afghanistan. "We don't have contact with the Haqqani network but we have information that this is just propaganda and Haqqani is alive," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
But Tahriri insisted the killing "is a big achievement" for Afghanistan and for NATO. In addition to the 2011 assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Haqqani was also behind last year's attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel, said Tahriri.
The United States includes Haqqani on a list of terrorists and those who support terrorism.
A drone strike on Friday killed at least 10 militants, officials said, and a CNN count shows that there have been 30 suspected U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan this year. U.S. officials do not confirm such strikes.
"The Haqqani Network has been at the forefront of insurgent activity in Afghanistan, responsible for many high-profile attacks," says the U.S. State Department, which considers Badruddin Haqqani an operational commander.
He has helped lead insurgents and foreign fighters in attacks in southeastern Afghanistan, the State Department says. He is also "believed to be in charge of kidnappings for the Haqqani Network. In November 2008, Badruddin accepted responsibility for keeping New York Times reporter David Rohde hostage."
Rohde escaped in June 2009.
Established by Jalaluddin Haqqani in the wake of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the group initially worked with the United States and its allies to expel the Soviets. Since suffering a stroke in 2005, Jalaluddin has essentially retired and his son, Sirajuddin, has taken command.