A Taliban commander blamed for the deadliest attack on US troops since they entered Afghanistan in 2001 has been killed in a shootout with security forces in Pakistan, American and Pakistani officials said.
Police killed Ahmad Shah, also known as Mullah Ismail, at a roadblock near the northwestern city of Peshawar, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said. Two US security officials confirmed Shah's death in a shootout and said Pakistani authorities had his body.
All three officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
US and Afghan officials have described Shah, who also went by the name Mullah Ismail, as the leader of Taliban militants who ambushed a group of US commandos in June 2005 and shot down a Chinook helicopter sent to rescue them. Sixteen American special forces members died on helicopter.
The commander's death, which was first reported by CBS News on Wednesday, could help relations between Pakistan's new civilian government and Washington, which wants it to keep up the pressure on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives inside Pakistan, mainly near the Afghan border.
Jehanzeb Khan, a police officer in Badhber, 10 kilometers south of Peshawar, said local officers responding to an emergency call about a kidnapping on April 10 set up a roadblock to check passing vehicles and opened fire on one car when the driver tried to speed away.
Khan said two suspected kidnappers were killed and their victim, an Afghan national, was freed unharmed.
He said the dead men carried papers that identified them as Haroon and Noor Agha. But the senior Pakistani intelligence official said the papers were false and further investigation had identified one of them as Shah Zabiullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, also said he did not know if Shah had been killed.