By Farrukh Azeem –
ISLAMABAD — A U.S. drone strike killed a senior al-Qaida figure and at least five other Islamist insurgents in northwestern Pakistan, an intelligence official said Tuesday.
Abu Kasha al-Iraqi, a high-ranking al-Qaida planner and facilitator, was killed late Monday when “a U.S. drone fired two missiles into a mud compound,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Another al-Qaida operative was also among the six charred bodies pulled out from the debris by locals in the Khaider Khail area southeast of Mir Ali, the main town of North Waziristan, one of the seven tribal districts along the Afghan border where al-Qaida-linked Taliban rebels are thought to have hideouts.
On Saturday, a drone strike targeting a vehicle in the same district killed three people.
Pakistan opposes the drone attacks, saying they fuel anti-U.S. sentiment and drive support for the militants.
The latest airstrike came as President Asif Ali Zardari, in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss bilateral relations, which have been strained by the drone strikes.
They also discussed a film produced in the United States that mocks the Prophet Muhammad.
The video has sparked violent protests in Pakistan, which reached their peak last Friday, killing at least 23 people and injuring more than 200. A church was also set ablaze in Pakistan’s northwestern town of Mardan, drawing condemnation by Pakistani as well as international leaders.