Prominent Taliban Commander Said to Have Been Wounded in Pakistan Bombing

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A Pakistani militant commander who directs attacks against American and allied forces in Afghanistan was wounded in a suicide attack that killed six other people on Thursday, Pakistani officials said.

It was not immediately clear how badly Maulvi Nazir, considered the main Taliban warlord in South Waziristan, had been hurt in the blast, which occurred in the region's main town, Wana.

A senior Pakistani official based in Wana said that Mr. Nazir was making a telephone call in the main bazaar when a teenage boy riding an explosives-laden motorcycle crashed into his parked jeep. Six people died immediately and nine were wounded, he said.

The official said that Mr. Nazir, thought to be in his late 30s, sustained minor leg injuries. "They are not life-threatening," he said by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But a local Taliban militant who goes by the code name Tiger, also speaking by telephone, suggested that the injury might have been more serious. After initial treatment at a hospital, Taliban fighters moved Mr. Nazir to an undisclosed location, fearing that he could be targeted by an American drone strike, he said.

Mr. Nazir is a leader of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, which lives in South Waziristan and is considered a major figure in Taliban attacks that are based on Pakistani soil but direct their fire across the border into Afghanistan.

His group is distinct from the Pakistani Taliban, who mostly conduct attacks inside Pakistan. The two groups have a longstanding enmity rooted in ancient tribal politics: While Mr. Nazir's group is dominated by Wazirs, the Pakistani Taliban is led by the rival Mehsud tribe.

Mr. Nazir is thought to have an unofficial nonaggression pact with the Pakistani Army, which has a major military base in Wana. Some years ago, the army reportedly gave Mr. Nazir artillery support as part of a drive to push Uzbek militants from the area.

The Uzbeks, who fight under the banner of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, have long vowed to take revenge on Mr. Nazir, who survived an earlier suicide attack.

The attack Thursday followed new threats from the Uzbeks and their local allies, said the Taliban fighter known as Tiger. "Those Uzbeks and the anti-Nazir elements who had been driven out of Wana said they would target our main commanders, including Nazir," he said.

Mr. Nazir's forces have also been targeted by American drone strikes, one of which killed his 20-year-old brother and three senior aides last October.

But the majority of drone strikes occur in neighboring North Waziristan, which is controlled by another commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, and the Afghan warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Those two commanders and Mr. Nazir have together formed the Shura-i-Muraqqaba, a militant council intended to prevent infighting between the various groups. Analysts said the strength of that alliance may be tested after the attack Thursday.

"It is not known which group carried out this attack," said the Pakistani official in Wana. "It could be the T.T.P., it could be the Uzbeks. He has many enemies."

Declan Walsh reported from Islamabad, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan. Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud contributed reporting from Islamabad.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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