Badar Mansoor, a former commander of the banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen militant group that was active in Kashmir, was killed with three others when a spy plane fired two missiles at a compound in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal agency early this morning, officials were quoted as saying by television news channels.
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Media reports described Mansoor as Al Qaeda's chief in Pakistan. He was a key target for the US and was wanted for several attacks. This was the second drone attack since yesterday, when 10 militants were killed in a strike near Miranshah.
Pakistani Taliban [ Images ] militants had begun hiding in buildings they had rented in Miranshah, officials were quoted as saying.
Mansoor, who served as a conduit between the Taliban and the Al Qaeda, reportedly ran a training camp in North Waziristan, from where he sent militants to Afghanistan.
Mansoor belonged to Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab [ Images ] province and had close links with the Punjabi Taliban. Mansoor's death was a "major blow" to Al Qaeda.
Mansoor apparently became the head of the Al Qaeda in Pakistan after militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri was reported killed in a drone strike in June last year. Mansoor was linked to terror attacks in Karachi and a deadly assault on mosques of the minority Ahmadi community in Lahore [ Images ] that killed nearly 100 people in May 2010.
Several militant groups, including the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, have a presence in North Waziristan, from where they launch cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
The US slowed down its drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal belt after a cross-border North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, taking relations between Islamabad [ Images ] and Washington to a new low.