Peshawar, Sept. 6 (Reuters): A senior militant commander linked to the kidnap of a US soldier was killed today in a suspected US drone strike in Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun tribal region on the Afghan border, security and militant sources said.
Sangeen Zadran was the operational commander in Pakistan’s tribal areas for the Haqqani network, which regularly attacks US forces in Afghanistan from its mountain hideouts in Pakistan. He also served as the Taliban’s shadow governor of Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
The US placed Zadran, 45, on its list of global terrorists in 2011. He was accused of planning bomb attacks and assaults on US bases in eastern Afghanistan, planning movements of foreign Taliban fighters and orchestrating kidnappings of Afghan and foreign nationals in border areas. His death will be a temporary blow to the Haqqani network, said Saifullah Mahsud of the FATA Research Center, a Pakistani thinktank that works in the tribal areas. “He was one of the chief mediators among the Taliban factions, responsible for settling disputes,” said Mahsud. “He is or was holding Bergdahl.”
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, captured in 2009, is the only American soldier the militants hold. They have had repeated discussions with US authorities about exchanging him for some of the high-profile prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
Zadran died when drones fired two missiles on a compound in the village of Dargah Mandi in North Waziristan, destroying a house and killing seven people, one security official said. Another official put the toll at five.
Mosques in Miranshah, the regional capital, announced over loudspeakers that prayers for Zadran would be offered , residents said.