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Al-Qaeda chief in Pakistan dies in U.S. drone strike: TV

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Sept 29, IRNA -- Pakistani media reported that al-Qaeda chief in the country, Sheikh Al-Fatah, has been killed in a U.S. drone attack in North Waziristan tribal region.

Al-Fateh was killed in Datta Khel area two days ago, Geo television reported while quoting sources as saying.

There was no official confirmation of the report.

Al-Qaeda had appointed Fateh as its new commander for operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan after its former leader, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, was killed in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan in May 2010.

A previous al-Qaeda commander, Libyan Abu Laith al-Libi, was also killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, in January 2008.

Waziristan is the home of Taliban leaders Hakimullah Mehsood, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mulla Nazir, who are fighting against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Haqqani network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of former Taliban commander Jalauddin Haqqani, is also active in North Waziristan.

U.S. drones aircraft regularly launch strikes to target suspected militants in the region and has stepped attacks in recent days.

Since a suicide attack killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan in December, covert US drone attacks have tremendously increased in the volatile Waziristan tribal region.

A number of high-profile militant leaders, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud were killed in the drone attack in August last year.

A suspected US drone strike in Miranshah in February killed Mohammed Haqqani, a cousin of Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Pakistan's military launched an offensive against Taliban in South Waziristan last October and claims to have made big gains against Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds.

Pakistan publicly criticizes drone attacks, saying they violate its sovereignty and fuel more anti-Americanism among the people, but observers widely believe that Pakistan shares intelligence with the US on drone strikes.

The NATO helicopters also carried out two airstrikes in Pakistani tribal regions this week, the action strongly condemned Pakistani government. The NATO defended the strikes which reportedly killed around 50 Taliban-linked militants.

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