US missiles on Thursday killed al Qaeda’s chief in Pakistan, one of the Americans’ main targets and wanted for attacks that killed scores of people, officials said.
Badr Mansoor, who reputedly sent fighters to Afghanistan and ran a training camp in North Waziristan, was killed in a pre-dawn drone strike on a compound near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials and a member of his group told AFP.
“He died in the missile attacks overnight in Miranshah. His death is a major blow to al Qaeda’s abilities to strike in Pakistan,” a senior Pakistani official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
His death was confirmed by one of his loyalists.
“Badr Mansoor was killed in the missile attack,” a militant among his group confirmed by telephone.
Intelligence officials in North Waziristan said Mansoor had been killed, but other Pakistani officials were divided.
“We’re not sure. We cannot give confirmation just like that,” one of them told AFP on condition of anonymity.
A US drone attack had targeted a militant compound killed four insurgents in North Waziristan, early morning on Thursday, security officials had said.
Two missiles hit the compound located in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, a security official had said.
“A US drone fired two missiles at a compound used by militants in Miranshah and four militants have been killed.”
The incident and death toll were confirmed by intelligence sources.
“Taliban fighters had started hiding here in rented buildings and those killed are believed to be militants,” one official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Officials said the death toll could rise because of damage to buildings next to the one targeted by the drone.
This strike followed a drone attack, earlier, on Wednesday on a compound in Tappi, 10 kilometres (six miles) southeast of Miranshah, which security officials said killed 10 insurgents.
Several militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, have a presence in Pakistan’s border tribal regions, taking advantage of a porous border with Afghanistan to conduct cross-border attacks, or plot violence elsewhere.
North Waziristan is also an important base for the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, an Afghan militant faction allied with the Taliban.
While the Haqqanis say they no longer need havens in North Waziristan and stay in Afghanistan, they are known to still maintain a presence in the Pakistani border region.