Tribal sources from Pakistan’s northwest said on Saturday a U.S. drone attack had killed a senior al Qaeda commander in the latest blow to the militant Islamist group that has been targeted in many similar attacks.
Abu Zaid was killed, along with 10 other people, in the drone strike on a hideout in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, one of the tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan, early on Thursday, the sources said. Zaid had just moved to the hideout a few days ago, they said.
Pakistani security officials based in North Waziristan said they were aware of the death of a senior al Qaeda commander but could not confirm his identity or rank.
Zaid replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi as one of al Qaeda’s most powerful figures in June after Libi was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
The US launched the second drone strike today in the past 24 hour in an area known as a terrorist haven in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The remotely piloted Predators or the more advanced Reapers fired several missiles at a vehicle in the Mana area in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan, according to AFP and Geo News. Five drones were seen circling over the attack site before and after the strike.
Pakistani officials said that between four and six “militants” were killed in the strike, but did not disclose their identities. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders were reported killed.
The strike is the second in Shawal in the past 24 hours. On Saturday, the drones hit a compound in the village of Shuwedar in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan, killing six more “militants,” according to Pakistani officials. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry objected to the earlier strike in Shawal, and called the US incursions “a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and also in contravention of international law,” according to Dawn.
U.S.-led coalition troops battling Afghan Taliban insurgents have killed Al Qaeda’s second-in-command in Afghanistan in an air strike in the country’s eastern province of Kunar, the coalition said Tuesday.
Sakhr al-Taifi, a Saudi national, commanded foreign insurgent fighters and frequently moved between Afghanistan and Pakistan, often overseeing the transport of militants into Afghanistan, NATO said in a prepared statement. The air strike occurred Sunday in the Watahpur district of Kunar, a volatile Afghan province along the Pakistani border.
Al-Taifi and one other unnamed Al Qaeda militant were killed in the air strike, NATO said.
Over the last two years, the U.S. has steadily eroded Al Qaeda’s leadership ranks. U.S. drone missile strikes during that time period have killed at least 18 senior Al Qaeda leaders and commanders, as well as several top Taliban commanders. The death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a secret U.S. commando raid in the military city of Abbottabad in May 2011, was followed by a drone strike the next month that killed a top Al Qaeda planner, Ilyas Kashmiri, in Pakistan’s militant-infested tribal region along the Afghan border.