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Drone Strikes Kill Two Key Pakistani Militant Commanders

FILE: An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted drone aircraft performs aerial maneuvers.
FILE: An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted drone aircraft performs aerial maneuvers.

Two Pakistani militant commanders have been killed in separate drone strikes, Pakistani and Afghan officials say.

A suspected U.S. drone targeted commander, Qari Abdullah Dawar as he was walking with his associate near their mountain hideout in the Tor Tangai area of North Waziristan on July 4, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The slain militants were from the Gul Bahadur group, which has carried out attacks inside Afghanistan, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Meanwhile in Kabul, the Defense Ministry confirmed reports that a drone strike in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province had killed a key militant commander wanted in neighboring Pakistan for terrorism.

The ministry didn’t disclose the slain militant’s name, but Pakistani media identified him as Umar Rahman Fateh, a commander and bomb-making expert that belonged to the outlawed Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistani media said the drone struck a compound where Fateh and several other militants had gathered for a meeting on July 3.

Last month, a U.S. drone strike in the same Afghan province killed the TTP chief, Mullah Maulana Fazlullah, along with four of his top commanders.

Although the TTP still stages attacks in Pakistan, it is believed to have lost control of all territory in the country in recent years due to a relatively successful army offensive.

The group was also behind the massacre of more than 150 people – including 134 children -- at a Peshawar school in December 2014, an attack that rocked Pakistan and sparked a major counterterrorism campaign there.

TTP militants were also blamed for a shooting attack in 2012 on Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who has championed the rights of Pakistani girls to receive schooling.

The United States also has accused the group of attempting to stage a car bombing in Times Square in New York in 2010.

In March, the United States offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah, saying his group had "demonstrated a close alliance with Al-Qaeda" and gave explosives training to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber.

With reporting by AP, Daily Times, and BBC

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