Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 16:57 UK

UK forces 'kill Taliban leader'

Map of Helmand

One of the most dangerous Taliban leaders in Afghanistan has been killed by British forces in a helicopter attack, the Ministry of Defence says.

Mullah Mansur is believed to be behind a number of suicide bombings that have claimed British lives in and around Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.

One is said to have killed Sgt Ben Ross of the Royal Military Police and Gurkha Corporal Kumar Pun in Gereshk on 7 May.

Mansur and several accomplices died in a "precision strike", commanders say.

Task Force Helmand spokesman Lt Col Nick Richardson said Mansur - who created and supplied improvised explosives - was one of the most dangerous men in Helmand.

He said: "The attacks he helped plan and execute have probably killed or wounded hundreds of people, and most of them have been either Afghan civilians or police.

Mullah Mansur was [at] the heart of the insurgents' attempts to kill and injure British and NATO troops in Afghanistan
Defence Secretary John Hutton

"This operation was the culmination of months of effort and the strike itself was carefully coordinated and checked to ensure there were no civilians in the area.

"The death of Mullah Mansur is the latest in a series of prominent insurgent commanders and signals another serious blow to the insurgency."

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was keen to trumpet a "rare bit of good news".

But he added: "The Taliban will glorify [Mansur's] deeds. He will be eulogised.

"There will be others who come after him, perhaps not with quite the same operational experience but he will be replaced."

Mansur was believed to be behind the suicide bomber attack on the Helmand Police Headquarters in March that killed nine Afghan policemen and two civilians, with 28 people wounded.

'Significant blow'

In May, 13 Afghan police and civilians died and 27 others were wounded in a further attack.

Mansur was killed by UK Apache helicopters in the early hours of 1 June in an isolated area near Nahr e Saraj, north east of Lashkar Gah, during an entirely British operation, the MoD said.

It said he was known to have strong links to insurgent commanders from the Baluch tribe in the south and acted as the link between the insurgency in the south and central Helmand.

Defence Secretary, John Hutton, described the strike as a "significant blow" to the Taliban.

"Mullah Mansur was [at] the heart of the insurgents' attempts to kill and injure British and NATO troops in Afghanistan and his presence brought misery to innocent Afghan civilians," he said.

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