In a blow to the militant group, its senior commander, Abu Zaid, was killed along with 10 others as the drone attacked their hideout in the Mir Ali area in Pakistan's North Waziristan, Reuters reported, citing tribal sources from the region.
Zaid had reportedly moved to the new hideout in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan a few days before the attack. He was one of the most powerful al-Qaeda leaders in the region and became the top commander in June when Abu Yahya al-Libi, the previous commander, was killed in a drone attack.
The attack took place before dawn on Thursday, and the unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a house, suspected to be a militant hideout, NNI reported.
“This was the first strike on North Waziristan for 43 days. The U.S. drones were flying before and even after the attack,” local tribal leader Malik Mumtaz was quoted as saying by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Pakistani military forces confirmed the drone attack and said they were aware of the death of a “senior al-Qaeda” leader in the attack but said they were yet to confirm the identity of the person.
The U.S. drones, known for their precision attacks, have played a significant role in containing the terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, these unmanned aerial vehicles are unpopular in Pakistan as they have reportedly caused many civilian deaths in the region.
The Pakistanis see the drone attacks as an invasion of their territory and airspace and have been demanding the U.S. stop such strikes.
According to media reports, at least 265 people were killed in Pakistan in about 37 drone attacks in 2012.