Badar Mansoor, the most senior Pakistani in Al Qaeda who reportedly sent militants into Afghanistan and ran a training camp in Pakistan’s north-west, was killed along with four other people in a US drone strike on Thursday.
A senior Pakistani official and a Taliban source told the Agence France Presse that Mansoor had been killed in overnight missile attacks in Miranshah, North Waziristan’s main town, close to the Afghan border.
Mansoor was wanted for attacks that killed scores of people, both inside and outside Pakistan.
According to the BBC, he moved between the militant groups of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda, and is believed to have planned the May 2010 suicide attack against Pakistan’s Ahmadi Muslim minority in the eastern city of Lahore, in which up to 90 people died.
Reuters reported that Mansoor was living in a rented house in Miranshah. The death toll from Thursday’s attacks could rise, Pakistani officials said, as buildings beside the one targeted were also damaged, with people potentially inside.
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There was no immediate confirmation of his death from the US, which rarely comments on drone operations.
Thursday’s attack was the second in North Waziristan in as many days, and the fifth drone strike on Pakistani soil this year.
On Wednesday ten suspected militants were killed after an unmanned US drone aircraft fired two missiles at an insurgent hideout in the village of Thapi, 15 kilometers east of Miranshah.
Drone attacks in Pakistan have fallen sharply since November, when an airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, leading to a breakdown in relations between the US and Pakistan.
Last month President Barack Obama confirmed that American drones regularly target suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, in the first official acknowledgement of the CIA’s drone program.
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