Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

January 3, 2013

Pakistan says US drones kill senior Taliban figure

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Two U.S. drone strikes on northwest Pakistan killed a senior Taliban commander who fought American forces in Afghanistan but had a truce with the Pakistani military, intelligence officials said Thursday.

The commander, Maulvi Nazir, 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 Wednesday night, five Pakistani security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

At least four people were killed in a separate drone strike on Thursday morning 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 program 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 U.S. maintains that it targets militants, many Pakistanis complain that innocent civilians have also been killed.

Nazir's killing could cause even more friction in the already tense relations between Washington and Islamabad. Pakistan is believed to have struck a nonaggression pact with Nazir ahead of its 2009 military operation against militants in South Waziristan.

Fighters under Nazir's command focused their attacks on American forces in neighboring Afghanistan, earning him the enmity of the U.S.

But many in Pakistan's military viewed Nazir and militant chiefs like him as "good Taliban," meaning they focus attacks only on foreign forces in Afghanistan, keeping domestic peace by not attacking Pakistani targets.

Nazir outraged many Pakistanis in June when he announced that he would not allow any polio vaccinations in territory under his control until the U.S. stops drone attacks in the region.

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