Kabul: NATO said on Wednesday that a senior commander in the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network wanted over this week's deadly attack on a leading hotel in the Afghan capital had been killed in an air strike.
   
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) identified Ismail Jan as deputy to the senior Haqqani commander inside Afghanistan and said he was killed in the eastern province of Paktya on Wednesday.
   
It was not possible to confirm Jan's death or position independently and ISAF provided no immediate details on how they knew he had been killed.
   
It said security forces tracked his location based on intelligence reports from Afghan government officials, citizens and "disenfranchised insurgents" before calling in the air strike.
   
The US-led force accused Jan of providing material support for Tuesday's attack on the Intercontinental in Kabul, frequented by Westerners and Afghan government officials.
   
Heavily armed militants stormed the hilltop hotel late Tuesday, sparking a ferocious battle involving Afghan commandos and a NATO helicopter gunship that left at least 21 dead including the nine attackers.
   
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but NATO said it was carried out in conjunction with the Haqqani network, blamed for a string of high-profile attacks in Kabul and considered the most potent enemy in the east.
   
A judge, a Spaniard - reportedly a pilot for a Turkish airline -- police and hotel staff were among those killed in the attack, which has renewed questions about security as US forces prepare to start withdrawing this year.
   
NATO said Jan was killed with "several" other Haqqani fighters the day after the attack in Paktya, which borders Pakistan's semi-autonomous district of North Waziristan, where the Haqqani leadership is based.

(Agencies)