Taliban suicide wing chief dies in drone strike

Islamabad, Jan 7 (IANS) A top Pakistani Taliban leader, said to be the chief of the terror outfit's "fidai" or suicide wing, was among the 16 people killed in a drone strike in the country's northwest tribal region, media reports said Monday.

Wali Muhammad alias Toofan Mehsud was believed to be killed in the attack in South Waziristan Sunday, Xinhua reported citing local media.

However, there was no official confirmation about his death.

Five American drones Sunday fired eight missiles, destroying three militant hideouts.

The strike came a few days after a similar attack Thursday killed Taliban commander Mullah Nazir and nine other militants in South Waziristan.

Dawn News said Wali Muhammad was the cousin of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

One of the destroyed compounds belonged to Qari Imran, leader of the Punjabi Taliban, an outfit affiliated to the main terror group.

Sources told Dawn Wali Muhammad had been recently elevated to head the "fidai" wing after the death of its leader Qari Hussain in a drone strike in Mirali, North Waziristan.

Another victim in Sunday's drone strike was identified as Sailab.

Most of those killed belonged to the Mehsud tribe.

Pakistan has been regularly protesting the drone strikes, but the US has turned a deaf ear to it and continues to press ahead with air strikes in the northwest tribal areas along the Afghan border.

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