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U.S. drone strike kills Taliban commander who had truce with Pakistani military

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 7:04 p.m.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An American drone strike in Pakistan killed a top Taliban commander who sent money and fighters to battle the United States in Afghanistan but had a truce with the Pakistani military, officials said on Thursday.

Although the death of Maulvi Nazir likely will affirm the necessity of the controversial U.S. drone program, it could cause more friction in tense relations with Pakistan because Nazir did not focus directly on Pakistani targets.

Nazir was killed when two missiles slammed into a house in a village in South Waziristan while he was meeting with supporters and fellow commanders. Eight other people were killed, according to five Pakistani security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

A Pakistani official said that although his government continues to object to the drone strikes, there is no objection in removing Nazir from the battlefield.

Despite his reported cooperation with the Pakistani government, Nazir was suspected to have aided groups that attack Pakistani troops, said a Pakistani official on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. official confirmed the death of Nazir, along with an unspecified number of “trusted deputies.”

Nazir and those killed were “directly involved in planning and executing cross-border attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan, as well as providing protection for al-Qaida fighters in South Waziristan,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to describe casualties resulting from CIA counter-terrorism actions.

Pentagon spokesman George Little described Nazir as “someone who has a great deal of blood on his hands.”

At least four people were killed in a separate drone strike on Thursday in the North Waziristan tribal region.

America's use of drones against militants in Pakistan has increased substantially under President Obama, and the program has killed a number of top militants in the past year.

The drone strikes, however, infuriate many Pakistanis who see them as a violation of their country's sovereignty.

Many Pakistanis complain that innocent civilians have been killed — a claim that the United States rejects.

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