Two American drone strikes have killed a key Taliban commander and at least 7 others in Pakistan’s tribal belt Thursday.
Pakistani intelligence officials say the first attack in the South Waziristan tribal area killed Khan Mohammed, the deputy leader of a militant group led by Maulvi Nazir.
Nazir is considered one of the most powerful militant commanders in the region and has been accused of conspiring with the Taliban, according to the AP.
The second drone attack hit a militant hideout in North Waziristan hours later.
The drone attacks come during a time where the ethics in using unmanned aerial vehicles during warfare are being contested.
Over 687 civilians and and 14 al-Qaeda leaders have been killed in Pakistan since 2006 from drone attacks–almost 50 civilians for every militant killed, according to a Pakistani media report in 2009. The CIA claims drone strikes since May 2010 have killed over 600 militants without any civilian deaths.
Pakistani officials have publicly disapproved of using U.S. air drones in their country, but secretly have agreed to the controversial CIA-run program as well as seeking increased use over the country’s tribal regions, according to secret cables released by Wikileaks.
U.S. Presiden Barack Obama authorized the continued use of the drones in 2009, the same year the United Nations Human Rights Council criticized the country’s failure to keep track and prevent civilian casualties.