A US drone attack has reportedly killed a key commander of Taliban Islamist militants in northwestern Pakistan. He is said to have been among several militants killed in the strike.
Pakistani officials told news agencies on Thursday that Mullah Nazir Wazir had been killed in a US drone attack that struck a house in the village of Angoor Adda, near Wana, the capital of South Waziristan.
"Mullah Nazir and five associates died on the spot," an unnamed official told the AFP news agency.
Residents of Angoor Adda and Wana reported hearing statements on loundspeakers announcing Nazir's death.
Details about the attack remain sketchy, but the source cited by AFP said it appeared that Nazir had been targeted as he and a number of his fighters were trying to swap vehicles after the double cabin pickup truck they had been travelling in broke down.
Two of his most senior deputies are said to have been among the eight others killed in the strike.
Nazir is believed to have limited his militant activities to attacks on US troops in neighboring Afghanistan. His relations with other Pakistani Taliban groups were tense, and they are widely believed to have been behind a bombing in which he was wounded last November.
Four other militants were also reported killed in a US drone attack in neighboring North Waziristan early on Thursday.
The US military has dramatically increased its use of drones against militants in Pakistan since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. The US launched just five drone strikes in 2007, before peaking at 117 in 2010. That figure fell to 46 last year, according to the Reuters news agency.
pfd/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)