The Pakistani Taliban confirmed on Tuesday that a senior commander wanted in the deadly 2006 bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi was killed in a suspected American missile strike in north-western Pakistan.
Mohammed Qari Zafar’s death, which was reported earlier by Pakistani intelligence officials, marks the latest success from Washington’s covert CIA—run drone programme in Pakistan. The unmanned aircraft have carried out more than 100 missile strikes near the Afghan border since 2004, killing several senior Taliban and al—Qaeda leaders.
The Taliban described Zafar as a martyr in a statement faxed to local journalists and pledged to avenge his death. It is uncommon for the Taliban to confirm the death of one of its members in a missile strike.
“The mujahideen will soon take revenge against the Pakistani government for his killing anywhere in the country,” said the statement.
Pakistani officials routinely protest the drone strikes as violations of the country’s sovereignty. But U.S. officials, who refuse to speak publicly about the secret programme, say privately that the Pakistani government supports the effort.
Pakistani intelligence officials said last week that Zafar was killed on Wednesday along with 13 other insurgents when three missiles struck a compound and a vehicle in the Dargah Mandi area of the North Waziristan tribal region. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Zafar, who was a senior member of the banned al—Qaeda—linked militant group Lashkar—e—Jhangvi, orchestrated the March 2006 suicide car bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi, killing U.S. diplomat David Foy, and three Pakistanis. He was also believed to be behind the September 2008 truck bomb blast at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed 54 people. The U.S. had posted a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to his capture.