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U.S. Drone Strike Reportedly Kills Pakistan Al-Qaeda Leader

A U.S. drone missile strike in Pakistan is reported to have killed Badar Mansoor, the leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction with close ties to Al-Qaeda.

Mansoor was reportedly killed in a drone strike on February 9 in the North Waziristan region, near the Afghan border.

The strike -- the second in the region in two days -- killed four people, according to Pakistani and Taliban sources. A Pakistani Taliban commander told Reuters news agency the dead included Mansoor, his wife, and two other family members.

Mansoor has been described as a high-priority U.S. target in Pakistan. An unnamed Pakistani official is quoted as describing Mansoor as "the de facto leader of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan" following the death of Ilyas Kashmiri in a drone strike in June 2011.

Mansoor was reportedly responsible for a May 2010 terrorist attack in Lahore that killed nearly 100 people.

It is believed he commanded a group of some 200 Taliban fighters operating in Afghanistan, and that he ran a militant training camp in North Waziristan.

Controversial Drone Campaign

The United States generally does not comment on drone attacks, although President Barack Obama spoke about the program in an interview last month.

Obama said then that combating Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in any other way would involve "probably a lot more intrusive military action than the one we're already engaged in."

The Pakistani government maintains that the drone program is an illegal infringement on Pakistan's sovereignty.

"These [drone] attacks are unlawful and unacceptable, and this continues to be our position," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in Islamabad on February 9.

The drone program was halted in November after a NATO cross-border air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Pakistan. But it was resumed on January 10.

U.S. drone attacks in the region are credited with having killed scores of militants. But critics say the strikes have also killed innocent Pakistani civilians, worsening the image of the United States.

An earlier drone strike on February 8 on the village of Tappi, 10 kilometers southeast of Miranshah, reportedly killed 10 militants.

Compiled from agency reports