Hellfire missiles from US drones killed the 71-year-old on Sunday morning while exiting the balcony of a secure home in Kabul, officials said. us President Joe Biden Said no civilian was killed.
The Taliban confirmed an airstrike on a residential house in the Sherpur area of Kabul, but said there were no casualties.
Zawahiri moved to a “very safe place” in Kabul a few months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August last year, a senior leader of the radical group told Reuters on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the drone strike and called it a violation of “international principles”. Two Taliban spokesmen did not respond to a request from Reuters seeking information on Zawahiri’s death.
Unverified photos, described on social media as the target of the attack, showed the broken windows of a pink building, its fence topped with a roll of barbed wire. The house appeared to be two to three storeys tall and surrounded by trees.
Sherpur is a quiet, green part of Kabul with large houses where Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former Afghan general and ethnic Uzbek strongman, lived among other local dignitaries. Some homes have swimming pools in their enclosed gardens.
US and NATO embassies are within a few miles (miles) of the area.
A woman who lived in the neighborhood and spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said she and her family of nine went to a safe room in their home when she heard an explosion over the weekend. When she later went to the roof, she saw no commotion or chaos and assumed it was a rocket or bomb attack – which is not uncommon in Kabul.
The senior Taliban leader said Zawahiri spent most of his time in the mountains of the Musa Kala district of Helmand province, after the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001 when the United States sent troops to the country.
He said Zawahiri kept a low profile there but at times went in and out of the border areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office did not respond to questions about Zawahiri’s alleged activities within and outside Pakistan.
In January 2006, a CIA-operated Predator drone fired missiles at a house in Damdola, a village in the Pakistani tribal region of Bajaur, on the belief that Zawahiri was approaching. He was not, but at least 18 villagers were killed.
Other Taliban sources said the group had given Zawahiri the “highest level of security” in Kabul, but was largely actively passive and needed the Taliban’s permission to relocate.
A Kabul police official described Sherpur as Kabul’s “safest and safest neighbourhood” and said the drone attack there was a “big blow”.
He said that influential people of the previous governments of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani had built huge houses in Sherpur. The official said senior Taliban leaders and their families now live there.
Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon, helped kill nearly 3,000 people in the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
A US official said US officials identified Zawahiri’s family – his wife, his daughter and their children – had relocated to a house in Kabul and later identified Zawahiri at the same location.
The authorities were not aware of his departure and at times they identified him on his balcony – where he was eventually killed.