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Pakistani militant hiding in Afghanistan

Nov. 7, 2012 at 4:19 PM   |   Comments

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Taliban leader who ordered the attack on teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousufzai has escaped to eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

Mullah Fazlullah has moved into an area of Afghanistan that is not heavily patrolled by U.S. troops, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

However, U.S. officials said finding Fazlullah is not a priority because he is not affiliated with al-Qaida or with insurgents targeting U.S. and Afghan interests.

"Our guys just aren't tracking him," a senior Special Operations official said. "He is viewed as an 'other-side-of-the-border' problem."

However, Tom Collins, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, said coalition forces are "maintaining steady pressure on insurgents throughout Afghanistan."

"Mullah Fazlullah, like many insurgents who are transitory, remains a person of interest," Collins said. "If we receive actionable intelligence that he is in Afghanistan, we will attempt to take him off the battlefield."

Fazlullah is the alleged mastermind of the Oct. 9 attempt to assassinate Malala.

The 15-year-old had been an outspoken activist for the right of girls to attend school. On the day of her attack, she was on a school van when gunmen boarded the bus and shot her twice at close range.

Malala survived the attack and is recuperating in Britain.

Topics: Tom Collins
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