A senior Pakistani Taliban leader, Mulla Nazir, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan tribal region on Thursday, tribesmen and officials in the region said.
A US spy aircraft fired missiles into South Waziristan’s Angor Adda area and killed Mulla Nazir and his five other fighters, they said. Angor Ada is very close to Afghan border.
Another commander, Ratta Khan of Mulla Nazir group was also killed in the same strike, officials said. They said that Mulla Nazir was heading to Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan from Angor Adda, when his vehicle came under attack at Sra Kanda area.
Nazir, who had signed a peace deal with Pakistani security forces in 2007, had been under monitoring by the CIA-controlled drones.
Taliban have neither denied nor confirmed the reports.
It was the first US drone strike in the new year. Hours after the first strike, American unmanned aircraft also fired missiles on a vehicle in North Waziristan, and killed four people, residents said.
Officials said that the missiles hit the vehicle in Mir Ali area killing a TTP commander Faisal Khan and two Uzbek militants.
Mulla Nazir had emerged differences with the founder of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, Baitullah Mehsood. He had not sided with the TTP when the security forces launched a major operation against the TTP in October 2009.
Mulla Nazir was injured in a suicide attack last month which had killed six people in Wana. The TTP was accused of the attack, the charges denied by the TTP’s spokesman. His Wazir tribe had expelled tribesmen from Mehsud tribe from Wana and adjoining areas after the suicide attack.
He is the second senior Pakistani Taliban commander to be killed in US drone strike in three years. The TTP former chief, Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in August 2009 in South Waziristan along with his wife.
Mulla Nazir had led a tribal ‘lashkar’ or volunteers in 2007 and expelled Uzbek militants in Wana. But he was suspected to shelter militants from other countries. He was also suspected of training and sheltering Afghan Taliban and sending him across the border into Afghanistan.
His splinter group had joined an alliance with the Taliban faction in North Waziristan led by Hafiz Gul Bahadar. They had formed an alliance ‘Shura-e-Mujahideen’ and had declared Afghan Taliban chief Mulla Omar as their chief.
The US continued drone strikes in 2012, killing hundreds of people.