PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A senior commander linked to the Taliban was among six militants reportedly killed Friday in a suspected U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan along the Afghan border, according to local media and an intermediary with close links to militants.
The commander, Afghan national Mullah Sangeen Zadran, had been a top leader with the Haqqani network who reportedly served as the Taliban’s unofficial governor of Afghanistan’s southeastern Paktika province, said the intermediary.
Two Jordanians, an Egyptian and two local militants linked to the Haqqani network also were reportedly hit in the suspected U.S. drone strike, he added. The network is an Islamist insurgent group operating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that enjoyed CIA support during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan but is now allied with the Taliban fighting NATO-led forces.
Unconfirmed media reports said two missiles in the early morning hours of Friday hit and destroyed a house where the militants were staying in Dargah Mandi village in North Waziristan, a longtime haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants. In the past, the reported killings of top militants have sometimes turned out to be untrue.
Afghanistan has often blamed Pakistan for providing militants a safe haven in its mountainous northeastern border region, from which they can stage attacks on Afghan territory. Islamabad has repeatedly denied any support for militancy, arguing that it is the real victim of terrorism.
Zadran, reportedly age 45, is accused of masterminding bomb and manned attacks on U.S. bases in eastern Afghanistan, overseeing logistics for Taliban fighters, and kidnapping foreign and Afghan nationals around the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. In 2011, the United States put him on its worldwide list of terrorists.