TALIBAN’S NO. 2 IN PAKISTAN REPORTEDLY KILLED IN US DRONE STRIKE

Fox News on May 29, 2013 published an AP report that 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 killed. Excerpts below:

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.

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 the media.

The missile attack was the first since Pakistan’s May 11 elections…

The tribal region in northwestern Pakistan is home to local and Afghan militant outfits, including al-Qaida-linked fighters. The U.S. has often criticized Pakistan, saying it does not vigorously target militants in these areas who then attack American troops in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban, officially called the Tehrik-e-Taliban, has been battling government forces for years in a bid to push them from the tribal regions, cut Pakistan’s ties with the U.S. and eventually establish their brand of hardline Islam across Pakistan.

Rehman has been on the U.S. radar for years. In 2010, Washington offered $5 million for information leading to Rehman under their “Rewards for Justice” program.

While Rehman was mostly known for his activities in Pakistan, the U.S. said in its announcement that he also participated in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan against U.S. and NATO personnel.

The U.S. wanted Rehman in connection with his alleged involvement in an attack on a U.S. base in Khost, Afghanistan in 2009. The attack on Camp Chapman killed seven Americans working for the CIA, a Jordanian intelligence officer and wounded six other CIA personnel.

Rehman was believed to be about 42 or 43 years old and was from South Waziristan, Mahsud said. He had already been fighting American troops in Afghanistan when the TTP was created in late 2007 and he turned his focus onto Pakistani targets.

Pakistan has been hit by 355 drone attacks since 2004, according to the New America Foundation, a U.S.-based think tank.

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