February 19th, 2010
08:42 AM ET

Haqqani network commander killed in drone strike

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) - A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region killed the son of a notorious al Qaeda-linked militant group leader, sources told CNN on Friday.

The pilotless aircraft fired two missiles at a militant compound in North Waziristan Thursday night and killed four people. One of them was Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani - whose militant network, known as the Haqqani network - is accused of targeting U.S. and international forces across the Afghan border from its base in Pakistan's rugged tribal region. 

U.S. intelligence officials have said they consider the Haqqani network - closely allied to the Taliban - one of the greatest threats to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Muhammad Haqqani was a commander in the operation, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

It is the latest drone attack on militants - all believed to be carried out by the United States, even though the U.S. military routinely offers no comment on reported attacks.  Earlier this month, a drone strike targeted another son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, Sirajuddin Haqqani – also a commander.

Drone strikes have escalated in Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed seven CIA officers in eastern Afghanistan in late December.

Arrests of Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan were made recently, including the seizures of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the military leader of the Afghan Taliban, and two Afghan Taliban shadow governors.

The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, died recently after reports that a suspected U.S. drone strike targeted him in January, according to Taliban and Pakistani intelligence sources. The previous leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, also died in a suspected U.S. drone strike.

Journalist Nasir Dawar contributed to this report.

Filed under: Drone strikes • Haqqani • Pakistan • Taliban
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