US drone strike kills Taliban commander
A senior Taliban commander has been killed in a US drone strike on northwest Pakistan, intelligence officials say.
The commander, Maulvi Nazir, known as Mullah Nazir, fought American forces in Afghanistan but had a truce with the Pakistani military.
He was among nine people killed in a missile strike on a house in the village of Angoor Adda in the South Waziristan tribal region near the border with Afghanistan late on Wednesday.
At least four people were killed in a separate drone strike today near Mir Ali, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region.
America’s use of drones against militants in Pakistan has increased substantially under President Barack Obama and the programme has killed a number of top militant commanders over the past year.
But the drone strikes are extremely contentious in Pakistan, seen as an infringement on the country’s sovereignty. And while the US maintains that it targets militants, many Pakistanis complain that innocent civilians have also been killed.
Pakistan is believed to have struck a non-aggression pact with Mullah Nazir ahead of its 2009 military operation against militants in South Waziristan.
Fighters under his command focused their attacks on US forces in neighbouring Afghanistan and many in Pakistan’s military viewed him and militant chiefs like him as “good Taliban”, as they focused attacks only on foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Mullah Nazir outraged many Pakistanis in June when he announced that he would not allow any polio vaccinations in territory under his control until the US stops drone attacks in the region.
Pakistan is one of three countries where polio is still endemic. Nine workers helping in anti-polio vaccination campaigns were killed last month by militant gunmen and the killings this week of five female teachers and two aid workers may also have been linked to their work on the polio campaigns. – (AP)