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NATO strike kills al-Qaida senior leader

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan killed al-Qaida's second highest leader in the country in an airstrike in eastern Kunar province, the coalition said Tuesday.

Sakhr al-Taifi, also known as Mushtaq and Nasim, was responsible for commanding foreign insurgents in Afghanistan and directing attacks against NATO and Afghan forces, the alliance said. He frequently traveled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, carrying out commands from senior al-Qaida leadership and ferrying in weapons and fighters.

The airstrike that killed al-Taifi and another al-Qaida militant took place Sunday in Kunar's Watahpur district, the coalition said. A follow-on assessment of the area determined that no civilians were harmed, it said.

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan was carried out because al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden used the country as his base to plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

Most of al-Qaida's senior leaders are now believed to be based in Pakistan, where they fled following the U.S. invasion. The terrorist organization is believed to have only a nominal presence in Afghanistan.

Many senior al-Qaida commanders have died in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, and bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad last May.

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