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2013's first US drone strike kills important Taliban commander

Thursday, 3 January 2013 - 11:00am IST Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2013 - 11:29am IST | Place: ISLAMABAD | Agency: Reuters
Drone strikes have dramatically increased since US President Barack Obama took office. There were only five drone strikes in 2007, peaking at 117 in 2010, then down to 46 last year. Most of the strikes hit militants although civilians have also been killed.

A US drone strike killed a Taliban commander, his deputy and eight others in northern Pakistan, intelligence sources and tribal leaders said on Thursday.

Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, an important commander from the Wazir tribe, was killed on Wednesday night when missiles struck a house in Angoor Adda, near the capital of Wana, South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, seven intelligence sources and two residents from his tribe said. His deputy, Ratta Khan, was also killed, three sources said.

He 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.

Nazir was wounded in a bombing in November, widely believed to be as a result of his rivalries with other Taliban commanders.
Shortly after the bombing, his Wazir tribe told the Mehsud tribe, related to Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, to leave the area.

The Pakistani army has clawed back territory from the Taliban since launching a military offensive in 2009. Intensified drone strikes have also 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, peaking at 117 in 2010, then down to 46 last year. Most of the strikes hit militants although civilians have also been killed.

Rights groups say that some residents are so afraid of the strikes they don't want to leave their homes. Data collected from news reports by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism say that nearly 3,404 Pakistanis have been killed by drones, of which 473-889 were reported to be civilians.

It is difficult to verify civilian casualties because Taliban fighters often seal off the sites of drone strikes immediately.

Some Pakistanis say the drone strikes are an infringement of their national sovereignty and have called for them to stop.

Others, including some residents of the tribal areas along the Afghan border, say they are killing Taliban commanders who have terrorised the local population.


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