(Reuters) - Suspected U.S. drones fired missiles into a stronghold of veteran Taliban commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani, on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least seven people, residents and an official said.
Twenty-three people, most of them relatives of Haqqani, were killed in a similar attack on the same village in September.
Here are some facts about Haqqani.
-- A gaunt, ethnic Pashtun man with a long beard and, in the few photographs of him, always seen wearing a large turban, Haqqani is in his 70s. He won recognition as a rugged commander during the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against Soviet occupiers in the 1980s.
-- Haqqani’s speciality was cave fighting in Afghanistan’s inhospitable mountain ranges near the Pakistani border. He commanded mujahideen, or holy warriors, in the eastern Khost region from a nearly unassailable base in caves that later became a training ground for Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.
-- Haqqani had close links with U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistani intelligence services, notably the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), during the war against the Soviets.
-- The New York Times reported in July that the CIA had given Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani evidence of the ISI’s continued involvement with Haqqani.
-- After the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, Haqqani threw his support behind the hardline Islamic movement and became Minister for Borders and Tribal Areas. A month after the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States, he visited Pakistan, raising hopes of a split in Taliban ranks. But Haqqani remained loyal to the Taliban and has not been seen in public since then.
-- He was said to have been wounded by U.S. bombing in Khost in November 2001, and was recently erroneously rumored to have died. Taliban sources say he is in poor health and one of his sons, Sirajuddin, has been leading Haqqani’s fighters.
-- Haqqani had set up a big madrasa, or Islamic school, near Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border during the 1980s. His extended family had also been living there. Many of his relatives including one of his several wives, a sister, a sister-in-law, two nieces and eight grandchildren were killed in the September attack, a Pakistani intelligence agency official said.
Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel and Valerie Lee
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