Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, who sent men to fight NATO troops in Afghanistan, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan along with five loyalists, local security officials said Thursday as reported by Reuters.
Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, an important commander from the Wazir tribe, was killed on Wednesday night when missiles struck a house in Angoor Adda, near the capital of Wana, South Waziristan. Seven intelligence sources and two residents from his tribe provided the information on his death.
His deputy, Ratta Khan, was also killed, three sources said.
AFP news agency reported that, along with his deputy, eight others were killed in northern Pakistan and those included intelligence sources and tribal leaders. The exact number of deaths remains unclear.
Nazir favored attacking American forces in Afghanistan rather than Pakistani soldiers in Pakistan, a position that put him at odds with some other Pakistan Taliban commanders.
The Mullah was wounded in a bombing in November, widely believed to be the result of his rivalries with other Taliban commanders.
Shortly after the bombing his Wazir tribe told the Mehsud tribe, related to Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, to leave the area.
The Pakistani army has clawed back territory from the Taliban since launching a military offensive in 2009. Intensified drone strikes have also killed many senior Taliban leaders, including Mehsud’s predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, in 2009.
Drone strikes have dramatically increased since U.S. President Barack Obama took office. There were only five drone strikes in 2007, peaking at 117 in 2010, then down to 46 last year, according to Reuters.
Most of the strikes hit militants although civilians have also been killed. Rights groups say that some residents are so afraid of the strikes they don’t want to leave their homes.
It is difficult to verify civilian casualties because Taliban fighters often seal off the sites of drone strikes immediately.