U.S. drone strike kills senior militant in Pakistan: officials

Thu Feb 9, 2012 7:41am EST
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By Jibran Ahmad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The second U.S. drone attack in two days in Pakistan's North Waziristan region killed five people on Thursday, including a senior militant commander with links to al Qaeda, Pakistani intelligence officials and Taliban sources said.

Badar Mansoor, leader of a faction of the Pakistani Taliban with close ties to al Qaeda, was one of the five killed in the strike in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, intelligence officials and Pakistani Taliban sources said.

"Badar Mansoor was living in a rented house here. He died in the drone strike this morning, and we have confirmation of five deaths," a Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters.

Officials said the death toll could rise because buildings next to the one targeted were also damaged and people could have been there.

On Wednesday, a U.S. drone aircraft fired missiles at a compound in a village near Miranshah killing 10 suspected militants, Pakistani officials and villagers said.

The Central Intelligence Agency's drone program, a key element of the U.S. counter-terrorism strategy in the region, was apparently halted after a November NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, sparking fury in Pakistan.

The attacks with the unmanned aircraft in Pakistan's unruly northwestern ethnic Pashtun areas along the Afghan border were resumed on January 10.

Several militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, operate in Pakistan's semi-autonomous border regions, taking advantage of a porous border with Afghanistan to conduct cross-border attacks, or plot violence elsewhere.   Continued...