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Member of militant group killed in airstrike in Afghanistan

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Qurayshi is suspected of coordinating attacks in Kunar and Nuristan provinces
  • The military calls the airstrike a significant victory
  • Four insurgents are killed in Ghazni province

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A senior al Qaeda commander of Saudi origin was killed in an airstrike in northeastern Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said Wednesday.

The airstrike that killed Abdallah Umar al-Qurayshi occurred Saturday in Kunar province, the coalition force said in a statement.

Al-Qurayshi, who is believed to be a Saudi citizen, was suspected of coordinating fighters in attacks in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, the statement said.

"The death of Abdallah Umar al-Qurayshi is a significant victory for the people of Afghanistan," said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, the director of the ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center.

A second Arab militant -- an explosives expert named Abu Atta al Kuwaiti -- and several other foreign Arab fighters were also killed in the attack, ISAF said.

The airstrike targeted a compound in Kunar province's Korengal valley, a remote region that U.S. forces fought for years to control, and ultimately abandoned last April, after more than 40 American soldiers were killed there. Kunar province has been a hub for jihadi militants from the Arab world ever since the days of the anti-Soviet rebellion of the 1980s.

Afghan security officers say at least one relative of a local Taliban military commander named "Matin" was also killed in Saturday's attack. Several Afghan officials added that at least two Arabs were killed in the strike.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told CNN he could neither confirm or deny reports of the attack.

ISAF spokesmen say a team of attack helicopters were dispatched to the target zone after the airstrike, to confirm that "the targeted structure was completely destroyed."

ISAF reported more fighting on Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan. Four insurgents were killed when an air weapons team pounded an insurgent firing position in Ghazni province.

CNN's Ivan Watson contributed to this report