A U.S. drone strike targeting a vehicle at a Taliban compound killed at least four militants, including Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, in the North Waziristan tribal region on Friday, officials said.
“It was a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan compound which was in use of a top TTP commander,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media.
The strike took place in the Dandey Darpakhel area, five kilometers north of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, a stronghold for Taliban and Al Qaeda linked militants. It came a day after three insurgents were killed in another drone strike that also targeted a rebel compound near Miranshah.
“A U.S. drone fired two missiles targeting a vehicle at the main gate of the compound, killing four militants,” said the official. Another security official also confirmed the attack and casualties.
In addition to the TTP commander, Dawn cites government and security sources as confirming that Tariq Mehsud, the personal bodyguard of Hakimullah Mehsud, and another senior TTP commander were also killed in the strike.
The Government of Pakistan had announced on Thursday that it had initiated the dialogue process to seek peace with the Taliban. On Friday, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid had claimed that the government had not yet contacted anyone within the TTP.
North Waziristan is one of seven semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan. Washington considers these areas a major hub of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
The incident comes a week after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged U.S. President Barack Obama to stop drone strikes during a meeting in Washington.
The Pakistani defense ministry Wednesday said 317 U.S. drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas had killed 67 civilians and 2,160 militants in Pakistan since 2008. Other organizations have given much higher estimates for the civilian casualties of drone strikes in the region.