PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suspected U.S. drone strike killed the No. 2 commander of the Pakistani Taliban on Wednesday, Pakistani intelligence officials said, although the militant group denied he was dead.
If confirmed, the death of Waliur Rehman would be a strong blow to the militant group responsible for hundreds of bombings and shootings across Pakistan. The United States has a $5 million bounty out on Rehman, who Washington has accused of involvement in the 2009 suicide attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan that killed seven Americans working for the CIA.
Missiles fired by a U.S. drone slammed into a house early Wednesday in Miran Shah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region, killing five people including Rehman, Pakistani officials said.
Two officials said their informants in the field saw Rehman’s body while a third said intelligence authorities had intercepted communications between militants saying Rehman had been killed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban denied the reports.
“This appears to me to be false news. I don’t have any such information,” said Ahsanullah Ahsan.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to confirm if Rehman was dead. He said if the reports were true, Rehman’s death would deprive the militant group of its chief military strategist involved in “horrific attacks” on a CIA base in Afghanistan and other attacks against Pakistani civilians and soldiers.
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