Washington: Badruddin Haqqani, the key operational commander of the al Qaeda linked Haqqani network, and top Pakistani Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah are believed to have been killed in US drone and air strikes in the tribal region of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Badruddin, the son of Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, is ranked as a deputy to his elder brother and the network`s chief Sirajuddin and was believed to be killed in one of the five volleys of drone strikes in Pakistan`s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan since August 18.
Four of the missiles hit took place in Shawal Valley, considered to be traditional area of operations of Haqqani network in North Waziristan, and US reports said he may have been killed in the August 21 strike near Miranshah.
The wave of attacks drew strongest protest from Islamabad in recent years when a senior US diplomat was summoned by the Foreign Ministry to lodge their opposition to the attacks.
Badruddin, thought to be in his mid-30s, was a member of the Miranshah Shura Council, one of the Afghan Taliban`s four regional commands, which controls all activities of the militant group in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Senior US officials were quoted by the New York Times as saying that they had strong indications that Badruddin, the key commander of the Haqqani network which is responsible for most of the spectacular assaults on American bases and Afghan cities in recent years, was killed in a drone strike
Meanwhile, a statement by coalition forces in Afghanistan said that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Mullah Dadullah was among 20 militants killed in a "precision airstrike in Shigal wa Sheltan district (of) Kunar province yesterday”.
Dadullah, whose real name is Maulana Mohammad Jamaluddin, was made the commander of Taliban in Pakistan`s Bajaur Agency in 2010. He fled to Afghanistan to escape an operation launched by the Pakistan Army. His deputy Shakir too was killed in the airstrike, the statement said. Nearly 40 suspected militants have been killed in these attacks, including a Kashmiri jihadi named "Engineer" Ahsan Aziz. Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed recently led funeral prayers in Mirpur for Aziz, who was killed in a drone strike on August 18.
Badruddin Haqqani runs the Haqqani network`s day-to-day militant operations, handles high-profile kidnappings and manages its lucrative smuggling operations, according to a report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
In August last year, Afghan intelligence released intercepts of Badruddin Haqqani directing a daring assault on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel. Three years before that, he held a reporter for The New York Times, David Rohde, hostage.
The last major successful drone strike in Pakistan was the killing of al Qaeda deputy leader Abu Yahya al-Libi in June.
US drones yesterday fired six missiles at three locations in Shawal Valley, destroying mud-walled compounds and two vehicles, Pakistani security officials and a Taliban commander said.
Among the 18 people killed was Emeti Yakuf, a senior leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group from western China whose members are Chinese Uighur Muslim militants.