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Suspected US Drone Strike Kills Top Militant Commander in Pakistan

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Pakistani security officials say recent U.S. drone strikes in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan have killed at least 14 al-Qaida-linked militants, including a top militant commander.

Officials say several missiles were fired before dawn on Thursday in South and North Waziristan. They say the deadliest strike was in the South Waziristan village of Angoor Adda, where the main militant commander, Mullah Nazir, and his two deputies reportedly were among those killed.

Nazir had long been accused of harboring Arab al-Qaida operatives and sending fighters to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

His fighters reportedly have been more interested in attacking the coalition troops in Afghanistan than targeting Pakistan's security forces, and in 2007, Nazir signed a peace accord with the Pakistani government. This helped contribute to a contentious relationship between Nazir's group and the Pakistani Taliban, which targets Pakistani forces.

In November, Nazir was wounded in a suicide bombing that killed at least six people. A year earlier, suspected U.S. drone strikes killed Nazir's deputy leader, Khan Mohammed, as well as a younger brother.

The U.S. drone strikes are deeply unpopular with the Pakistani public.

Last year, President Barack Obama openly acknowledged for the first time that the U.S. had conducted drone strikes against militants in Pakistan. Mr. Obama defended the operations, saying they are used for “precision strikes” against al-Qaida.

Drone attacks against suspected militants in Pakistan's tribal territory have reportedly killed more than 3,000 people since 2004, including several hundred civilians.

Article by VOA News