Suspected US Drone Strike Targets Key Pakistani Taliban Commander

Posted October 27th, 2011 at 8:10 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistani intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed five militants linked to a top Taliban commander in Pakistan's northwest tribal region.

The officials said the unmanned aircraft fired missiles Thursday at a vehicle in the town of Azam Warsak in South Waziristan, killing the younger brother of Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir.

Four other militants were also killed, including another relative of Nazir. Pakistani security officials say at least two other militants were wounded in the drone strike.

Nazir is believed to be one of the most powerful militant commanders in Pakistan's tribal region. His Taliban fighters are said to cross the border to attack U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

In June, missile strikes killed 15 militants believed to be allied with Nazir, and in May his followers threatened to carry out revenge attacks against Pakistan and the United States for the U.S. killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Nazir's group is reportedly not opposed to the Pakistani state and has struck deals with the government during past military offensives against other Taliban factions.

The United States does not publicly acknowledge the use of drone strikes against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in Pakistan's northwest. Pakistani officials have protested the attacks as a violation of the country's sovereignty.

Thursday's missile strike follows comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a visit to Pakistan last week, when she urged Pakistani leaders to take immediate action against militant safe havens.

Elsewhere in South Waziristan, intelligence officials say a roadside bomb killed two Pakistani soldiers in the Shakai area on Thursday.

And in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police say a bomb exploded in a popular market Thursday, wounding at least seven people.

Authorities said the explosives were packed in an oil canister.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which damaged several nearby shops.