September 17, 2009 / 1:27 PM / 8 years ago

Al Qaeda-linked Uzbek militant killed in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A senior Uzbek militant linked to al Qaeda was killed in a recent U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, security officials said on Thursday.

Najmiddin Kamolitdinovic Jalolov, also known as Yahyo, was killed on Monday when a pilotless U.S. drone aircraft fired a missile at a truck near the town of Mir Ali, which has for years been known as a militant sanctuary, the officials said.

"He was among three top militant commanders from central Asia who had an affiliation with al Qaeda and had been working in and from our territory," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official, who declined to be identified.

A second Pakistani security official said Jalolov was among four militants killed in the strike.

Hundreds of Islamist militants from Uzbekistan and elsewhere in central Asia are believed to be based in lawless militant enclaves in northwestern Pakistan's ethnic Pastun tribal lands which no government has ever fully controlled.

Some have been there since the 1980s, when militants flocked to the border from around the world to cross into Afghanistan and fight Soviet forces there.

Others fled across the border into Pakistan when U.S.-led forces toppled a Taliban government there in 2001.

Jalolov was the founder of a militant group called the Islamic Jihad Union, the Pakistani officials said.

The U.S. Treasury banned U.S. dealings with Jalolov and tried to freeze his assets in June last year, saying he was an organiser of suicide bombings in Tashkent in 2004 that killed at least 47 people.

Another Pakistani intelligence official said a member of a militant group fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region was also killed in the Monday air strike.

He identified that militant as Illyas Kashmiri.

Hundreds of al Qaeda-linked militants have been killed or captured in Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. missile strike in neighbouring South Waziristan on Aug. 5.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding out somewhere along the mountainous border. (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see:here an) (Reporting by Saad Ali and Alamgir Bitani; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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