ISLAMABAD: A US drone strike killed a Taliban commander, his deputy and eight others in northwest Pakistan, intelligence sources and tribal leaders said Thursday, weeks after he was wounded in a bomb attack believed to have been launched by Taliban rivals.
Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, was killed on Wednesday night when missiles struck a house in Angoor Adda, near the capital of Wana, South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, intelligence sources and residents said.
His deputy, Ratta Khan, was also killed, sources said.
Nazir favoured attacking American forces in Afghanistan rather than Pakistani soldiers in Pakistan, a position that put him at odds with some other Pakistan Taliban commanders but earned him a reputation as a “good” Taliban among some in the Pakistan military.
The military has a large base in Wana, where Nazir and his men were based. Residents said the main market in Wana shut down on Thursday to mark Nazir’s death.
Nazir was wounded there in a bombing in November, widely believed to be a result of his rivalries with other Taliban commanders. Six others were killed in the same bombing.
Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban draw support from ethnic Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. Rivalry between militant factions often reflects old rivalries between Pashtun tribes.
Shortly after the bombing, Nazir’s Wazir tribe told the Mehsud tribe, related to Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, to leave the area. Hakimullah Mehsud’s men frequently target the Pakistani army.
Intensified US drone strikes have killed many senior Taliban leaders, including Mehsud’s predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, in 2009.
Drone strikes have dramatically increased since US. President Barack Obama took office. There were only five drone strikes in 2007. The number of strikes peaked at 117 in 2010 and climbed down to 46 last year.