14 Jun 2007

PR# 2007-443

Afghans claim Mullah Mahmood Baluch dead

KABUL, Afghanistan – A senior Taliban leader was reportedly killed June 9 by a NATO and Coalition air strike while he was attempting to move a convoy of weapons and ammunition into Helmand province.

Local Afghans are claiming the attack killed Mullah Mahmood Baluch, a senior Taliban leader in the Helmand and Nimruz provinces.

Mullah Baluch had a major destabilizing effect in Helmand, and by his actions had attempted to undermine the authority of tribal elders, the district and provincial governments and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, according to an ISAF official.  In particular, by repeatedly threatening peace and security within the area he disrupted vital reconstruction and development work.  Thus, he denied the local population the progress they deserve in one of the most under-developed areas of Afghanistan, continued the official.

He was responsible for planning and conducting attacks against local nationals, the ANSF and ISAF, said the ISAF official.  And thus, his removal will disrupt the Taliban command structure significantly, hindering its ability to conduct further attacks.  Like most of the Taliban leadership, he was a cruel and vengeful man who did not have the people’s welfare in mind, the ISAF official added.

The strike follows a series of severe blows against the Taliban over the last few weeks, and clearly shows that there are no safe havens for individuals of this type, according to the ISAF official.

“This will come as a particular blow to the current senior Taliban leader in Helmand, Mullah Abdul Rahim, who has lost several leaders, making it difficult for him to assert his authority,” said Lt. Col. Maria Carl, ISAF spokesperson.

These operations are aimed at impacting on the ability of the Taliban to plan attacks against the Afghan people and ISAF.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/