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US drone kills Uzbek militant leader in Pakistan


Islamabad : An important leader of an Uzbek militant group that is closely associated with Al Qaeda was killed in a recent US drone attack in Pakistan’s restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence officials said Friday.

Najmiddin Jalolov alias Yahov, 37, was killed Monday when the four-wheel drive he was travelling in was hit by a single missile fired from an unmanned drone aircraft in Mir Ali area, North Waziristan district, which is a hotbed of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

“There were four people in the vehicle, all of them foreign nationals, when the drone targeted them at around 6.05 a.m. Monday. All the four militants died on the spot,” said a local intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The reports from the local sources confirm that Najmiddin is dead and been buried,” added the official.

Jalolov was an important leader of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an Al Qaeda linked terrorist organisation that is believed to be behind several terrorist plots and attacks in Germany and Uzbekistan.

The US Treasury Department designated the IJU as terrorist group in 2008, the UN has also placed sanctions on it including freezing its assets.

The Pakistani intelligence official said Jalolov moved into Mir Ali area three years back when he was expelled from the neighbouring South Waziristan district by pro-government Taliban commander Mullah Nazir after prolonged fighting which saw hundreds of Uzbek fighters dead.

“Since then Najimiddin is running a training camp near Mir Ali,” the official said. “Some Germans have received training from here and our local sources say at least three German nationals are presently getting training at this camp. But we have yet to confirm the report.”

Among the other militants killed in Monday’s attack was a Taliban commander in Afghanistan, Najeebullah Zarzai.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has intensified drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region since late last year and killed dozens of second tier Al Qaeda leaders.

A similar strike last month eliminated the leader of Pakistan’s Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, who is believed to be behind dozens of suicide attacks, including the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Islamabad officially protests the regular drone attacks saying these violate its sovereignity but unofficially security officials admit that most of the information leading to US missile attacks comes from Pakistani intelligence agencies.