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Rival of Pakistani Taliban Chief Killed

Police in Pakistan said a militant leader opposed to Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was shot dead Tuesday in northwest Pakistan.

Police said militant commander Qari Zainuddin was in his office in Dera Ismail Khan when a gunman shot him and wounded one of his aides. Zainuddin was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Zainuddin was a militant commander in the Taliban stronghold South Waziristan, but recently announced that he would support a planned military operation against Mehsud.

Officials said one of Zainuddin's guards barged into the complex and shot him after morning prayers. No one has claimed responsibility but suspicion is likely to center on Mehsud and his followers.

Also Tuesday, two suspected U.S. drone strikes killed at least eight militants in South Waziristan.

The first targeted suspected militants in a stronghold of Taliban commander Mehsud. Hours later, during the funeral procession for those killed, another missile strike killed at least two people and wounded three others.

Pakistan's military is preparing a new ground offensive against Mehsud's stronghold in South Waziristan. Pakistani jets have carried out airstrikes on Mehsud targets in recent days.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.