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By Michael Jacobs
A US drone strike reportedly killed the Pakistani Taliban’s second in command this week.
Pakistani officials said Waliur Rehman, deputy leader of the Taliban, was one of five people killed in a drone strike on a house in North Waziristan.
The strike occurred Wednesday morning, hitting a house in Chamsa, a village just outside of the Taliban stronghold Miranshah.
Taliban spokesmen denied the claims, including a man who says he’s Rehman’s personal driver. However, the Taliban has admitted some of its members were killed in the strikes. Since drone strikes sites are off limits to journalists and investigators, the strikes themselves are difficult to verify.
Recently, leaders within the Taliban have taken steps to avoid meeting in person, to ensure multiple members aren’t killed in drone strikes.
This is the first missile strike in Pakistan since President Barack Obama outlined new rules for drone use that would limit their scope. It also comes after the Pakistani people voted on May 11th for members of government who strongly oppose US drones in Pakistan. For newly elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, the strike could cause difficulties for new leader, who has pledged to begin peace talks with insurgents.
In a recent address, Obama stated the drone strikes in Pakistan are vital for killing unreachable Al-Qaeda forces as well as stopping forces “forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces” in Afghanistan.
According to the New America Foundation, Pakistan has been hit with nearly 355 strikes since 2004.