US claims drone attack killed Qaeda member; Pak denies
Washington: A high-ranking al Qaeda terrorist commander was reportedly killed in an American drone attack in northwest Pakistan, the US official said.
Neither al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden or his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri were among those killed, Fox news reported, saying that the target that was hit was a high-profile al Qaeda operative.
In the attack on Wednesday night, the US drone fired hellfire missiles at a target in north Waziristan, in which six militants were reported killed.
The Pakistani media report said that those killed included four foreign fighters, a term normally used to describe al Qaeda militants.
Pakistani officials, however, have denied any such missile strike in the region.
“No predator drone strike has taken place today,” a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
The New York Times quoting top US officials recently reported that Obama administration had quietly authorised a proposal by CIA to expand the use of drone to Balochistan, where US intelligence believes Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar is hold up with his new `Shura` (top council members).
Though the drone attacks started in Bush era, the Obama administration has stepped up their pace and recently these strikes have killed scores of top Taliban and al Qaeda militants.
Since August 2008, more than 65 such drone strikes have killed around 625 people, including Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, al Qaeda commander Rashid Rauf and many others.
The US step up of drone attacks coincides with Obama`s announcement last week to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
Top US commanders in Afghanistan have revealed plans to start a new operation to hunt and kill bin Laden and other top al Qaeda leaders.
US wants that Pakistani forces to move into north Waziristan and take action to neutralise the two major Taliban factions -- Mullah Omar and Haqqani network.
(With Agencies’ inputs)
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