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Top militant among 15 killed in drone hits
 
 
 

SOUTH/NORTH WAZIRISTAN - A key Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir, along with his deputy, were among 15 Taliban killed in two separate US drone strikes on South and North Waziristan agencies.The US drone, in its first attack of 2013 on Wednesday night at around 11:30pm, fired at least two missiles targeting a mud house at Sarkanda village adjacent to Angoor Adda in South Waziristan Agency bordering Afghanistan.Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, an important Taliban commander from the Wazir tribe was killed along with his deputy Ratta Khan, commanders- Agha Khan Wazir, Allauddin Wazir and five others in the strike.Locals from the area, security officials and political administration of South Waziristan Agency confirmed the death of Maulvi Nazir in drone attack. Residents of Angoor Adda and Wana said announcements about Nazir’s death were made on loudspeakers from different mosques.Nazir is one of the most high-profile Taliban killed by drones. His group is one of several Taliban factions operating in tribal areas. Nazir had survived a previous US drone hit and then a bomb attack in November last in which he sustained injuries. A suicide bomber had attacked his vehicle in Wana. No group had claimed responsibility for November attack, but shortly after blast, Nazir asked members of Mehsud tribe to leave the area of his control in SWA. A seasoned fighter, believed to be in his 30s, was a member of the Wazir tribe. He opposed the ethnic Uzbek fighters in SWA. Nazir had expelled foreign militants from his area and reportedly favoured attacks on American forces in Afghanistan. He also signed non-aggression pacts with Pakistan military in 2007 and 2009. Nazir was a leading commander, whose operations were based around Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan Agency. Residents said the main Wana market remained shut on Thursday to mark Nazir’s death.Calls for prayers for Nazir’s soul were made over loudspeakers. His funeral prayers were offered at a playground near Azam Warsak area at 11:30am on Thursday and 8,000 to 10,000 local tribesmen attended prayers. A local prayer leader Maulvi Sahi Marjan led the funeral prayers of Nazir. In a second US drone strike on Thursday at about 9:00 am, at least five militants were killed when a US drone struck a vehicle at Mir Ali, North Waziristan Agency. Sources said that US drone fired one missile hitting a vehicle at Bubarak Shahi Killi, followed by another missile when people rushed to the vehicle to rescue the victims of attack.  Five militants, reportedly two of them stated to be foreigners, were killed in the strike. AFP/Reuters add: Officials said an unmanned US aircraft fired two missiles at his vehicle in the Sar Kanda area of Birmil in South Waziristan, killing Nazir and five of his loyalists, including two senior deputies. “Mullah Nazir and five associates died on the spot,” one of the officials told AFP on condition of anonymity.Another official said Nazir was targeted as he prepared to swap vehicles after his pick-up developed a mechanical fault.Two of his influential deputies, Atta Ullah and Rafey Khan, were among those killed, the official added.He had testy relations with the Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting a domestic insurgency. Pakistani security officials were locked in talks to assess the impact of Nazir’s death, which one official told AFP would benefit Pakistani Taliban who want to move into South Waziristan.“There will be a setback in a way. He was one of those who were keeping his area under effective control and preventing the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan from operating there. So it will make a difference,” the official said. Analysts were divided on the impact that his death would have on Pakistan and on the US-led war against an 11-year insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.Nazir’s non-aggression pacts with the Pakistan military had 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. 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.“The tribesmen are very grieved at his death as he was our hero. He had expelled all the foreign militants from our villages and towns and given real freedom to our people,” a local shopkeeper in Wana bazaar, Siraj Noor Wazir, said.

 
 
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