US drone strike in Pakistan kills Haqqani 'spiritual leader'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 1:10am

A US drone killed six people in northwest Pakistan yesterday, including a senior leader of the ruthless Haqqani network, officials said, in only the second such strike outside the country’s lawless tribal districts.

The missile attack hit a religious seminary that militants and security officials said belonged to the terror outfit – blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan – in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Haqqani sources said that the network’s spiritual leader, Maulana Ahmad Jan, was among those killed at the seminary, which they said was a rest base for militants fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, the network’s chief financier, Nasirudddin Haqqani, was gunned down in mysterious circumstances in a village on the edge of Islamabad.

As it usually does after drone strikes, the Pakistan government condemned the attack as a violation of its sovereignty and counterproductive to efforts to end militancy.

Yesterday’s strike was the first time a US drone hit a district inside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Two local security officials identified two of the dead as Jan and Mufti Hameedullah. “

[Jan] was the spiritual leader and head teacher of the Haqqani network,” one source said.