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Al-Qaida-linked militant killed

Nato and Afghan forces say they have killed a former Guantanamo detainee who had become a key al-Qaida affiliate after returning to Afghanistan.

Sabar Lal Melma, who was released from Guantanamo in 2007 after five years of detention, had been organising attacks in eastern Kunar province and funding insurgent operations, Nato spokesman Captain Justin Brockhoff said.

A Nato statement described Melma as a "key affiliate of the al-Qaida network" who was in contact with senior al-Qaida members in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Troops surrounded Melma's house in Jalalabad city and shot him dead when he emerged from the building holding an AK-47 assault rifle. Several other people were detained.

After the fall of the Taliban, Melma, 49, was given the rank of brigadier general and placed in charge of about 600 border security troops in Konar province, according to his military file, made public by WikiLeaks.

He was captured in August 2002 while attending a meeting with US military officials in Asadabad and transferred to the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in October that year. He was suspected of helping carry out rocket attacks against US troops.

While imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, the US determined he was a "probable facilitator for al-Qaida members" and was also thought to have links to Pakistan's intelligence service. He was sent back to Afghanistan in September 2007.

Nato said in a statement that coalition forces have captured or killed more than 40 al-Qaida insurgents in eastern Afghanistan this year.

In June 2010, then CIA director Leon Panetta said only 50 to 100 al-Qaida operatives continued to operate inside Afghanistan.

About 520 Guantanamo detainees have been released from custody or transferred to prisons elsewhere in the world.


From Belfast Telegraph