'Drone attack' kills top militant in Pakistan

A close ally of a senior militant has been killed in a suspected US drone attack in Pakistan's tribal region, intelligence officials have revealed.

The aircraft fired six missiles at a vehicle in South Waziristan, killing five people including Khan Mohammed, also known as Sathai, the deputy leader of a group of militants headed by Maulvi Nazir.

Nazir is one of the most powerful militant commanders in the tribal region and is accused of working with the Taliban and al Qaida to stage attacks against foreign troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Mohammed was also Nazir's cousin, according to Pakistani intelligence sources. One of Nazir's brothers, Hazrat Omar, was also said to have been killed in the strike.

Nazir is believed to have close relations with Pakistani intelligence and agreed to stay neutral when the military invaded South Waziristan in 2009 to fight the Pakistani Taliban, who have focused their attacks against the Pakistani state.

The militants killed in the drone strike were riding in a double-cabin pickup truck from Tora Gola village to the nearby area of Azam Warsak when they were hit. Three other people were injured in the attack, officials said.

The US refuses to acknowledge the CIA-run drone programme in Pakistan publicly, but officials have said privately that the strikes have killed many senior al Qaida and Taliban commanders.

Meanwhile, a bomb exploded in the main food market in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, wounding at least 11 people. Police said three of the victims were in serious condition.

The bomb contained about 6.5lbs of explosives and was planted in a cooking oil canister. Local TV footage showed damaged shops with pieces of metal and wood littering the ground.

Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and has been frequently targeted by the Pakistani Taliban.