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US Drone Strike Kills 4, Wounds 2 in Northern Pakistan


Pakistani security officials said a U.S. drone strike on a Taliban compound in North Waziristan has killed at least four militants, including a wanted senior al-Qaida leader, and wounded two others.

The strike took place in the Khar Tangi area of Datta Khel district in the North Waziristan tribal region, where the Pakistani military has since June been battling militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Military officials identified one of the dead in Sunday's strike as Umar Farooq, al-Qaida's spokesman in Pakistan.The area is generally off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.

Farooq, 38, was reportedly close to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former and current heads of al-Qaida. Farooq was also a key figure in running the group's operations and finances in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, where he also helped direct attacks against NATO troops, three Taliban fighters told Reuters.

Pakistan security officials said Pakistani Taliban linked to commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur used the compound, but it was not immediately clear whether Bahadur was there at the time of the strike.

Other military officials in Pakistan said reports of the drone strike were not true.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban are known to maintain close ties in Pakistan.

Al-Qaida leader killed

The strike came a day after Pakistani soldiers killed top al-Qaida leader Adnan Shukrijumah, who was indicted in the U.S. for his alleged involvement in a plot to bomb New York's subway system.

Drone strikes in Pakistan stopped for the first six months of the year while the government held peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. But the talks failed and the strikes resumed days before the military announced a major anti-Taliban offensive in North Waziristan on June 15.

The Pakistani military said its offensive has killed more than 1,560 militants so far, with 125 soldiers losing their lives.

A soldier was killed and another wounded when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb near Datta Khel district on Sunday, a local security official told the French news agency AFP.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.