Mullah Nazir killed in South Waziristan drone strike: officials
PESHAWAR: Ten people were killed including Taliban warlord Mullah Nazir and several others injured in multiple US drone strikes carried out in the South and North Waziristan tribal regions on Thursday.
In the attack in South Waziristan, an unmanned drone fired two missiles at a vehicle killing six people in the Sar Kanda area of Birmil in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal district of South Waziristan.
While talking to Dawn.com, local Taliban and intelligence sources confirmed the killing of pro-government and anti-US Taliban commander Mullah Nazir along with five of his companions near Wana.
Local political administration officials while talking to Dawn.com also confirmed the killing of Mullah Nazir.
Nazir’s funeral was observed in Azam Warsak area, 10 kms from Wana, sources said.
Mullah Nazir was the main militant commander in South Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt considered a base for Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamist militants, and a powerful elder in the Wazir tribe.
Nazir, who was wounded in a suicide attack in South Waziristan on November 29, confined his militant activities to Afghanistan, where he opposed the presence of US and Nato troops fighting an 11-year Afghan Taliban insurgency.
He, as well as North Waziristan commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, was understood to be close to the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, a faction of the Afghan Taliban blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan.
Another Pakistani security official said Nazir and his fighters were targeted as they were trying to swap vehicles when their double cabin pick-up encountered a mechanical fault.
Two of his influential deputies Atta Ullah and Rafey Khan were among those killed, the official added.
Another militant commander Rata Khan was believed to have been killed in the attack.
Nazir’s fighters have previously been targeted by US drone strikes. He reached a peace deal with Islamabad in 2007 and had testy relations with the Pakistani Taliban, who have been waging a domestic insurgency since 2007.
New chief nominated:
Bahawal Khan has been nominated as the new chief of the group, sources told Dawn.com.
Meanwhile, Taj Wazir has been made naib amir (deputy chief) of the group soon after the death of the group’s chief Mullah Nazir and his deputy Rupa Khan in the US drone strike.
Sources added that dastarbandi (official Jirga ceremony for new head) was held soon after the funeral of the deceased in Azam Warsak.
North Waziristan Strike:
Separately, four people were killed and several others injured in a drone attack in the Mubarak Shahi village in North Waziristan tribal region’s Mir Ali Tehsil.
The US drone targeted a vehicle with two missiles, and then fired another two missiles when rescuers gathered at the site to carry the bodies and the injured.
The death toll from the drone strike in North Waziristan was expected to rise, security sources told Dawn.com.
There were reports of a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) commander Faisal, affiliated with the Hakimullah group, being killed in the strike along with two uzbek militants, sources said.