A Taliban commander confirmed Dec. 27 that the rebels’ military chief in southern Afghanistan had been killed in a US airstrike on Dec. 19, adding his death was a blow for the Islamist movement. Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, who had close links to Osama bin Laden, was killed in an airstrike in Helmand province – a claim rejected by a Taliban commander and spokesman at the time. Osmani was the most senior Taliban leader to be killed since the hardline Islamists were ousted from power in late 2001. (Reuters)

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