PESHAWAR, (Reuters) – Tribal sources from Pakistan’s northwest said on Saturday a U.S. drone attack had killed a senior al Qaeda commander in the latest blow to the militant Islamist group that has been targeted in many similar attacks.
Abu Zaid was killed in the drone strike on a hideout in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, one of the tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan, early on Thursday, the sources said. Zaid had just moved to the hideout a few days ago, they said.
Pakistani security officials based in North Waziristan said they were aware of the death of a senior al Qaeda commander but could not confirm his identity or rank.
Zaid replaced Abu Yahya al-Libi as one of al Qaeda’s most powerful figures in June after Libi was killed by a U.S. drone strike. Ten others were also killed in that attack.
Unmanned aerial attacks have crushed al Qaeda’s network along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan but have drawn trenchant criticism in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda has been weakened steadily in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid by U.S. special forces on a Pakistani garrison town in May 2011.