Taliban announces death of Haqqani terror network founder

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At least 117 people have died along the Afghan-Pakistani border after three days of heavy snowfall caused a series of deadly avalanches Sunday. Numbers are expected to rise as rescuers reach isolated regions where it's feared more people are trapped beneath the snow.

The founder of the notorious Taliban-linked Haqqani network, which for decades was responsible for kidnappings and suicide bombings against the United States and its allies, has died, the Taliban has said.

A statement distributed by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid to journalists said Jalaluddin Haqqani passed away “after a long battle with illness,” adding he had been “ill and bed-ridden for the past several years.”

He passed operational control of the network to his son Siraj many years ago, who then became the number-two ranked commander in the Taliban.

The Haqqani network was formally designated a terrorist organization by the United States in 2012.

The network, which is based in Waziristan, a tribal area of Pakistan, is linked with both the Taliban and al Qaeda. It also operates across the border in Afghanistan.

It is not clear from the statement when Haqqani died.

His death has been reported and speculated on over the years but this is the first time the Taliban have released an official statement confirming his death.

Tawab Ghorzang, director of Public Affairs at the office of National Security Council of Afghanistan, tweeted that according to government sources Haqqani died “back in 2007.”

He added that it should “be carefully seen that what is the agenda of Taliban behind this announcement. It is obviously a part of their Psychological Warfare tactics.”

CNN has been unable to reach Haqqani’s immediate family for comment.

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