Pakistani officials said the death of Mr. Umar was a major blow to Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. He not only recruited a significant number of trained militants, but also compelled a number of local militants to pledge allegiance to his affiliate, the officials said.
“Because of his previous affiliation with various local militant outfits operating in the region, he managed to influence networks of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Jihadi groups operating in Kashmir and smaller groups operating in other South Asian countries,” said Raja Umar Khattab, a Karachi-based counterterrorism police official.
A senior Afghan security official said Mr. Umar had managed to build a network of about 1,500 militants across the region, with recruits drawn from South Asia, Iran and Central Asia. Mr. Umar had close ties to the Taliban’s leadership council in Quetta, Pakistan, and his militants provided training to Taliban in Afghanistan and were involved in fighting in the Afghan provinces of Helmand and Nimroz.
Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the American-led military mission in Afghanistan, confirmed the deaths of the Qaeda members and that “several foreigners associated with Al Qaeda were detained, including multiple persons from Pakistan and one from Bangladesh.”
After the raid, details from the scene were murky; accounts from Taliban-controlled areas are sometimes contradictory. Military officials in Washington said that some civilians had most likely been killed. Government officials in Helmand Province said up to 40 civilians might have died, including members of a wedding party.
A statement from the American-led mission said that the raid was under investigation.
“Because of heavy fighting, we did conduct targeted precision strikes against barricaded terrorists firing on Afghan and U.S. forces,” the statement said. “We assess the majority of those killed in the fighting died from Al Qaeda weapons or in the explosion of the terrorists’ explosives caches or suicide vests.”
Violence has surged in Afghanistan since months of peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban collapsed last month and Afghan voters went to the polls at the end of September for the country’s presidential election.