Islamabad: The leader of an Al Qaeda-linked Chinese militant group has been killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan`s restive tribal region, an official said Monday.
Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, the leader of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, and two comrades died when a missile fired from a CIA-operated pilotless aircraft struck a vehicle in North Waziristan district Feb 15.
"It has been confirmed now, through our local sources, that Abdul Haq al-Turkistani has been killed," claimed an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Al-Turkistani hails from Uighur in China`s eastern province of Xianjiang.
He became the leader of the Al Qaeda-linked Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party in October 2003 after the Pakistani army killed the group`s former leader, Hassan Mahsum, in a security action in a tribal district of South Waziristan.
The US Treasury Department designated al-Turkistani as a global terrorist in April 2009, saying that he was involved in the planning and execution of terror attacks, recruiting and propaganda efforts in China.
In August 2009, al-Turkistani appeared in a video on an Islamic website threatening to attack Chinese interests around the world to avenge the deaths of predominantly Muslim Uighurs in their clashes with the ethnic Chinese Hans.
The infighting left 200 people dead and more than 1,600 wounded, most of them Uighurs.
Hundreds of Islamic militants are fighting their governments in central Asian nations and China for religious or cultural reasons and have taken refuge in Pakistan`s lawless tribal region, where the Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters protect them due to religious bonds.
The US have, in recent months, intensified aerial campaigns in Pakistan`s seven tribal districts, killing dozens of Al Qaeda operatives and Taliban leaders.