3 Jan 2013

Pakistan militant Mullah Nazir killed in drone attack

Senior Pakistani militant leader Mullah Nazir, who sent insurgents to fight American forces in Afghanistan, is killed by a US drone strike.

Mullah Nazir, who has been killed in a US drone strike, pictured in 2007 (pic: Getty)

Nazir was killed on Wednesday night when missiles struck a mud house in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, intelligence sources and residents said.

He had survived at least one previous drone attack and was wounded weeks earlier in a bomb attack believed to have been launched by Taliban rivals.

His key commanders and his deputy, Ratta Khan, were also killed in the attack at Angoor Adda, near the provincial capital of Wana, sources said.

Nazir had expelled foreign militants from his area, favoured attacking American forces in Afghanistan and had signed non-aggression pacts with the Pakistani military in 2007 in 2009.

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 because of the uneasy peace it brought to the area.

Nazir’s successor was announced in front of a crowd of thousands at his funeral, a witness said. People will be watching closely to see if fellow Wazir tribesman Salahud Din Ayubi continues with Nazir’s policies.

There are also concerns that there could be tribal clashes in the wake of Nazir’s death.

Drone strikes increase

Intensified US drone strikes have killed many senior Taliban leaders in recent years, including the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, in 2009. Hundreds of civilians have also been killed in the controversial strikes.

The strikes dramatically increased when US Pesident Barack Obama took office. There were only five drone strikes in 2007. The number of strikes peaked at 117 in 2010 before declining to 46 last year.

Rights groups say that some residents are so afraid of the strikes they don’t want to leave their homes.

“People of Wazir tribe are mourning Nazir’s death but they are reluctant to attend his funeral because of fears of another drone attack,” one resident said.