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Mujib Mashal (The New York Times) — A senior Pakistani militant leading the Afghanistan and Pakistan chapter of the Islamic State was killed in an airstrike by United States forces in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, Afghan officials said on Saturday.
The death of the senior militant, Hafiz Saeed Khan, who defected from the Pakistani Taliban last year and was introduced as the head of the Islamic State in the region in January, could not be confirmed independently. Twitter accounts associated with the Islamic State rejected the news, suggesting that it was a false rumor similar to reports of his killing that circulated in April.
Twenty-nine other militants were killed in Friday’s airstrike, in the Achin District of eastern Nangarhar Province, officials said. It was the second time in a week that United States forces, working on intelligence provided by the Afghan government, targeted Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.
Lizzie Dearden (The Independent) — Five suspected jihadists have been shot dead in Tunisia amid fears of another terror attack following the massacre in Sousse. Security forces killed the men yesterday during a counter-terrorism operation near the town of El Ktar in Gafsa governate.
The alleged extremists were reportedly found with four Kalashnikovs, the same weapon used by beach gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, a pistol, two grenades, several mobile phones, documents and a large sum of cash.
Tunisian news website Kapitalis reported that Mourad Gharsalli, who was wanted by the interior ministry on terror charges, was among the dead. The 27-year-old was thought to be a member of al-Qaeda affiliate the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade and had been implicated in several attacks, including a deadly raid on a minister’s home and murdering members of the Tunisian National Guard.
Ulf Laessing (Reuters) — Around 19 people have been killed and 80 wounded in heavy clashes between Libyan soldiers and Islamist fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi in the past three days, medics said on Saturday.
Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government have been fighting Islamist groups in the country's second-largest city for over a year, part of a wider struggle since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.
Army forces backed by armed residents have regained some of the territory in Benghazi lost last year, but fighters of the Islamist Majlis al-Shura are still present in several districts and the central port area. There have been heavy clashes for three days in the Lithi district since Islamist fighters holed up there attacked soldiers blocking the main streets into the district, army officials say.
Jess McHugh (International Business Times) — Russia and France have reached a tentative agreement on compensation payable to Moscow as a result of Paris' decision to cancel the delivery of two Mistral helicopter carriers.
The cancellation of the Mistral deal reportedly will cost France about $1.3 billion. The agreement still must be signed by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande, according to media reports.
France canceled the delivery of the two Mistral ships in November 2014. Hollande cited Russia's alleged involvement in the continuing crisis in Ukraine, saying the deal could not go through as there had been little progress concerning a ceasefire. Russia annexed Crimea in February 2014, and it purportedly hase provided military support to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine since them.
Svati Kirsten Narula (Quartz) — In an attack reportedly orchestrated by the Islamic militant group al-Shabab, gunmen opened fire on sleeping quarry workers in Mandera County, Kenya, near the Somali border, early this morning (July 7). At least 14 people were killed and 11 injured.
A quarry worker who witnessed the shooting told the Associated Press that he awoke to the sound of explosions at the gates of the compound where he and other workers sleep, around 1 am. He said he saw 20 gunmen shooting people who were sleeping inside and outside the buildings.
Al-Shabab is based in Somalia and has claimed responsibility for several high-profile terror attacks in Kenya, including the 2013 Westgate mall shooting in Nairobi and the April 2015 massacre at Garissa University College. The BBC reports that an unnamed al-Shabab source has confirmed the group’s involvement in today’s attack.