Pakistani demonstrators burn a U.S. flag during a protest in Multan on Thursday against the drone attacks in Pakistan.(Photo: S.S. Mirza, AFP/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A pair of U.S. drone strikes in northwest
Pakistan near the Afghan border killed 13 people Thursday, including a
senior militant commander who had a truce with the Pakistani military,
intelligence officials and residents said.
Five Pakistani security
officials said the commander, Maulvi Nazir, was reportedly among nine
people killed in a missile strike on a house in the village of Angoor
Adda in the South Waziristan tribal region early Thursday. The officials
spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to
brief the media.
Nazir's death could prove to be a contentious
issue between Washington and Islamabad, which is believed to have struck
a nonaggression pact with Nazir ahead of the Pakistani military's 2009
operation against militants in South Waziristan. While Nazir earned the
U.S.'s enmity by launching attacks against American forces in
Afghanistan, the Pakistani military views commanders like Nazir as key
to keeping the peace internally because they do not attack Pakistani
Residents in both Angoor Adda and Wana, the biggest town
in South Waziristan, said they heard announcements on mosque
loudspeakers announcing Nazir's death and that a funeral service was to
be held later Thursday.
Reports of individual deaths are difficult to independently verify, and the U.S. rarely comments on its secretive drone program.
second drone strike took place near Mir Ali, the main town of the North
Waziristan tribal region. One missile hit a vehicle near the town,
followed by another missile when people rushed to the vehicle to help
people in the car. The officials say four people were killed in the
strike, although the identities of the dead were not immediately known.
was attacked by a suicide bomber last November as he was arriving at an
office he used to meet with locals and hear their complaints. Nazir and
more than a dozen other people were wounded in the attack, and seven
people were killed.
No group claimed responsibility for the
attack, but suspicion immediately fell on rival militants who have been
jockeying with Nazir for power in South Waziristan.