The family of the key operational commander of the Haqqani network, the group behind some of the most high-profile attacks on western and Afghan government targets in Afghanistan, has been killed in a CIA drone strike. The death of Badruddin Haqqani had been earlier claimed by Pakistani and American officials.
Haqqani, who was also believed to handle the network's business interests and smuggling operations, died in one of a series of strikes last week that also killed a key Pakistani Taliban leader in Afghanistan, Mullah Dadullah, along with 12 of his bodyguards. Dadullah had also been accused of being behind a series of cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official, Badruddin had fled the compound he was staying in after it was hit by a missile, but was then killed by a second drone strike on the car in which he was traveling. "Our informers have told us that he has been killed in the drone attack on the 21st, but we cannot confirm it," said one of the Pakistani intelligence officials.
Badruddin is the son of warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and brother of the network's chief, Sirajuddin, who is responsible for day-to-day operations. The Haqqanis are the most experienced fighters in Afghanistan and the loss of one of the group's most important leaders could ease pressure on NATO as it prepares to withdraw most of its combat troops at the end of 2014.
U.S. officials blame the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network for some of the boldest attacks in Afghanistan, including one on embassies and parliament in Kabul in April which lasted for 18 hours, leaving 15 dead, including four civilians.