US drone strike kills 15 militants
Published 16/07/2014 | 10:03
Pakistani security forces have captured a key Taliban commander linked to a 2003 assassination attempt on former president Pervez Musharraf, as a US drone strike killed 15 militants near the country's border with Afghanistan.
Adnan Rashid, a former air force officer-turned-militant, was arrested during a raid last Friday on a militant hideout in Pakistan's troubled north-western tribal region, following a tip-off from local sources, two intelligence officials said.
The troops raided a home in the town of Shakai in the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan. Three associates of Rashid were also captured, and were being questioned at an undisclosed location, the officials said.
Rashid was hiding at the home after fleeing from North Waziristan, where the military in June launched a much-awaited operation against militants.
The Pakistani army has not confirmed the arrest, which marks the first major capture in the operation.
In 2003, a suicide bomber tried to ram Mr Musharraf's vehicle near Islamabad. Rashid was later convicted over the assassination attempt and imprisoned, but escaped during a jail break orchestrated by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012.
The officials said Rashid was also involved in several other terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, an American drone fired four missiles at a militant hideout in the town of Datta Khel in North Waziristan, killing at least 15 militants, two other Pakistani officials said.
US drone strikes are a serious source of tension between Washington and Islamabad. The Pakistani government regularly denounces the strikes as a violation of the country's sovereignty.
The latest drone strike took place in the same North Waziristan region where the military operation against local and foreign militants is under way.
The military carried out fresh air strikes in the Shawal valley in North Waziristan, killing 35 militants. In a statement, the military said the air strikes were launched to target "fleeing terrorists".
The air strikes came a day after the military said it had cleared the main North Waziristan town of Miran Shah of militants and also launched a ground operation in another key town of Mir Ali. An army statement said 11 militants were killed in a gunbattle in Mir Ali, as well as five soldiers.
The military says it has killed more than 450 militants so far in the North Waziristan operation, while it lost over two dozen soldiers. Over 800,000 people have fled the area before and after the start of the operation, which the military says is aimed at "eliminating terrorists and their hideouts".