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Afghans doubt Kabul’s killing of al-Qaeda chief

#Afghans #doubt #Kabuls #killing #alQaeda #chief

Many Afghans on Tuesday expressed shock or doubt that the al-Qaeda chief in Kabul had been killed by a US drone strike and said they could not believe Ayman Al-Zawahiri was hiding in their midst.

“It’s just propaganda,” Fahim Shah, 66, a resident of the Afghan capital, told AFP.

Late Monday, US President Joe Biden announced the assassination of Zawahiri, saying the Egyptian had “justice served” and a $25 million bounty on his head.

A senior US official said the 71-year-old was on the balcony of a three-storey house in the upscale Sherpur neighborhood when he was attacked by two Hellfire missiles just after sunrise on Sunday.

“We’ve seen propaganda like this in the past and there was never anything in it,” Shah said.

“In reality, I don’t think he was killed here.”

The Taliban earlier Tuesday admitted the US carried out a drone strike, but gave no casualties — and did not name Zawahiri, believed to be a key conspirator in the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

On Sunday, the interior ministry denied reports of a drone strike, but Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday it was because investigations were ongoing.

Kabul resident Abdul Kabir said he heard Sunday morning’s strike but nonetheless urged the United States to prove who was killed.

“They should show the people and the world that ‘we met this man and here is the proof,'” Kabir said.

“We believe they killed someone else and announced it was the al Qaeda boss… there are many other places he could be hiding – in Pakistan or even Iraq.”

The strike will certainly further sore the already bitter ties between Washington and the Taliban, who pledged to prevent Afghanistan from being a safe haven for militants under the deal that led to the withdrawal of US troops last year.

University student Mohammad Bilal was another who thought it unlikely that Zawahiri had lived in Kabul.

“This is a terrorist group and I don’t think they will send their leader to Afghanistan,” Bilal said.

“Leaders of most terrorist groups, including the Taliban, were living in either Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates when they clashed with former Afghan forces,” he said.

However, a straw poll found some believers in the capital.

Kabul housewife Freshta, who asked not to be further identified, said she was shocked to learn of Zawahiri’s killing.

“It’s so uncomfortable knowing he lives here,” she said.

A shopkeeper, who also asked not to be named, said he wasn’t surprised either.

“Any terrorist group can enter our country, use it and come out easily,” he told AFP.

“We don’t have good government. We are unable to protect ourselves, our land and our property.”

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#Afghans #doubt #Kabuls #killing #alQaeda #chief

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