WANA/PESHAWAR: Nine people, including five senior commanders of Pakistani Taliban leader Maulvi Nazeer, were killed and seven others sustained injuries in two separate drone attacks in South Waziristan and North Waziristan tribal regions on Thursday.
In the first attack, US spy planes attacked a double-cabin pickup truck, killing Maulvi Nazeer’s younger brother Hazrat Omar and commanders Khan Mohammad Wazir, Meraj Khan Wazir and Ashfaq Wazir. The identity of the fifth victim could not be ascertained.
Sources close to Maulvi Nazeer said the commanders had gone to Angoor Adda near the Afghan border earlier in the morning along with three-dozen militants to fight against the Nato forces in Paktika province. The militants had forgotten something important in Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan, and decided to go back to Wana and bring the material in the vehicle. The militants were passing through the mountainous Tor Korai area near Azam Warsak when their pickup truck came under attack of the CIA-operated spy planes.
Taliban sources said three drones were seen flying over the area during the attack. The drones fired six missiles at the vehicle, killing five people on the spot and injuring four others. Sources said the Taliban could not retrieve the bodies or injured from the rubble of the vehicle in time as the drones continued flying over the area for almost an hour.
“It was almost an hour later that we managed to reach the spot but by then Hazrat Omar, Khan Mohammad, Mairaj and Ashfaq were dead,” a senior commander of Maulvi Nazeer group told The News by phone from somewhere in South Waziristan.
Pleading anonymity, he said the bodies of the five slain commanders were later brought to Wana for burial while the injured were shifted to a hospital in the town. They were stated to be in stable condition. Besides other tribesmen and a large number of Taliban militants, Maulvi Nazeer too attended the funeral prayers for all the slain men. Those present at the funeral prayers said Maulvi Nazeer seemed quite composed and tried to hide the pain of the loss of his younger brother and other important commanders.
In his brief speech on the occasion, Maulvi Nazeer termed the loss of his men a great loss for him and his organisation. “To me, all of them were like brothers. Their loss is as heartbreaking as the death of my brother Hazrat Omar,” a tribesman quoted Maulvi Nazeer as saying.
After attending the funeral, Maulvi Nazeer disappeared as some of his commanders advised him that his stay there was risky. Hazrat Omar was his only brother who was part of the Taliban movement. Omar, 23, had married two years ago and leaves behind a widow and daughter. One of Maulvi Nazeer’s other brothers is running a shop in Wana’s Rustam bazaar and another is a farmer.
Slain commander Khan Mohammad was considered very close to Maulvi Nazeer and had remained one of his trustworthy companions. Maulvi Nazeer used to call him ‘mama’ or maternal uncle, as Nazeer’s mother is said to be a distant relative of Khan Mohammad. He belonged to the Yargulkhel clan, a sub-section of the Zalikhel sub-tribe of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe.
Two other Pakistani Taliban commanders, Nek Mohammad and Haji Omar, who were killed in the US drone attacks in recent years, also belonged to the Yargulkhel sub-tribe. Nek Mohammad was killed in the first US attack on Pakistani soil in 2004. Haji Omar later replaced him but he was driven out of his native Wana subdivision when Maulvi Nazeer and his Ahmadzai Wazir tribe formed an armed Lashkar against the foreign militants, particularly Uzbeks.
During his life, Khan Mohammad extended support to Maulvi Nazeer and helped him recruit a maximum number of fighters from his Yargulkhel sub-tribe. His younger brother and son, Mohammad Farooq, also joined Maulvi Nazeer’s group but died a few days ago while fighting the Nato forces in Afghanistan’s Zabul province.
Meanwhile, four more people were killed and three others injured in another drone attack at the Khushali village in Mir Ali subdivision in North Waziristan. Tribal sources and security officials based in Mir Ali said the drone fired four missiles at a house. They said four people were killed and three injured in the attack. A car and motorcycle parked inside the house were also damaged in the attack. The injured were shifted to a local hospital in Mir Ali. There was no way to ascertain the identity of the slain men.