U.S.-led NATO forces killed a top al-Qaida member, Abu Hafs al-Najdi, also known as Abdul Ghani, in an airstrike April 13 in the eastern province of Kunar, according to a statement the International Security Assistance Force issued Tuesday.
"The International Security Assistance Force confirmed their number two overall targeted insurgent in Afghanistan was killed during an airstrike in Dangam district, Kunar province," the statement said.
Abdul Ghani was killed along with another al-Qaida leader named Waqas, who was working with him to coordinate attacks on Afghan and coalition forces, the statement said.
Kunar is a remote province that borders the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan, known as havens for the Taliban and their al-Qaida associates. Militant attacks have increased in the province lately.
Abdul Ghani, a Saudi Arabian national, operated primarily from Kunar and traveled frequently between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the statement said. He directed al-Qaida operations in the province, including recruiting; training and employing fighters; obtaining weapons and equipment; organizing finances; and planning attacks on Afghan and coalition forces.
He was responsible for coordinating numerous high-profile attacks, the statement said. On the morning of his death, he reportedly had directed a suicide attack that killed tribal elder Malik Zarin -- a supporter of President Hamid Karzai -- and nine other civilians.
Coalition troops had been looking for him since at least 2007, the statement said.
Meanmwhile, the massive security breach that allowed the Taliban to spirit more than 480 Afghan inmates out southern Afghanistan's largest prison continued to embarrass local authorities as security forces worked to recapture the escaped convicts.
The Kandahar provincial governor's office said troops have already caught 71 of those who escaped and killed two who tried to resist.