Sources: Top militant killed in Pakistan drone strike

Sources: Top militant killed in Pakistan drone strike
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 7:24am

Rahman was second in command to Hakeemullah Mehsud

The Pakistan Taliban's No. 2 leader was killed in a drone strike Wednesday in the country's tribal region, a local tribal official and an intelligence official confirmed to CNN.

He was Wali-Ur Rahman -- second in command to Hakeemullah Mehsud, the militant group's leader. The Pakistan Taliban's spokesman told CNN he could not confirm or deny the information. The sources said Rahman was killed along with his close aide Fakhar-ul-Islam and two unknown Uzbek nationals.

This is the same strike reported earlier by intelligence officials in Pakistan. They said four people were killed and four others were injured in the assault, which occurred at a compound near Miranshah town in North Waziristan district.

The United States has long conducted such strikes in its fight against suspected terrorists in the Afghan and Pakistani border region. It's the first such known hit since Pakistan held general elections on May 11 and since President Barack Obama announced his new counter-terrorism policy last week.

There was no immediate comment from the United States about the strikes.

Drone strikes have become controversial and unpopular because they have killed civilians, and Pakistan cited "serious concerns" over the latest attack.

Pakistan, which describes itself as a front-line state in the fight against terrorism, said it has "consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law."

Last week, Obama discussed drone strikes when he laid out his counter-terrorism stance in a speech. He said they must be used with more temperance and caution, but they remain a necessary tool to take on terrorists.

"It is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars," Obama said. "As commander-in-chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties."

Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani politician who is expected to serve as prime minister, has said he plans to address the unrest in his country.

Talks with militants such as the Pakistan Taliban should be taken seriously, he has said.

CNN's Joe Sterling and Journalist Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to this report

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