Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 3, 2013

Pakistan says US drones kill senior Taliban figure

(Continued)

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.

Residents in Angoor Adda and Wana, the biggest town in South Waziristan, said mosque loudspeakers announced Nazir's death. One resident, Ajaz Khan, said 5,000 to 10,000 people attended the funeral of Nazir and six other people in Angoor Adda.

Ahmed Yar, a resident who attended the funeral, said Nazir's body was badly burned and his face unrecognizable.

Reports of individual deaths in such cases are often difficult to independently verify. Pakistani and foreign journalists have a hard time traveling to the remote areas where many of these strikes occur, and the U.S. rarely comments on its secretive drone program.

Nazir was active in many parts of Afghanistan and had close ties with Arab members of al-Qaida as well as the Afghan Taliban, said Mansur Mahsud, the head of the Islamabad-based FATA Research Centre, which studies the tribal regions.

"His death is a great blow to the Afghan Taliban," he said.

The Taliban is a widely diverse group. The Afghan Taliban is made up mostly of Afghans who fight against U.S. and NATO troops. In Pakistan the group has been divided with some fighting the Pakistani government because of its support for the U.S. Other Taliban groups in Pakistan, such as Nazir's, focus their energies on fighting American and NATO troops in Afghanistan but have a truce with the Pakistani military.

Nazir, who was believed to be about 40 years old, had property in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He used to be a member of Hizb-e-Islami, a militant Islamist group run by former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The group has thousands of fighters and followers across the north and east of Afghanistan.

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