WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Badruddin Haqqani, a top commander of the militant Haqqani network, died in a recent drone strike in Pakistan, a U.S. official confirmed to The Washington Post.
Badruddin, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the Taliban-affiliated violent militant group, had been the third ranking leader of the group as operations commander. He was earlier reported killed in the Aug. 18 drone strike in North Waziristan, but U.S. officials had not confirmed it until Wednesday.
"We now believe he is dead," an official in the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama told the Post Wednesday. The report said a spokesman for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, in charge of the drone operations in Pakistan, however, declined comment.
The death of Badruddin would be a huge setback for the Haqqani network, currently led by Jalaluddin and his other son, Sirajuddin, as it has been blamed for using Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region sanctuary to mount a number of high-profile attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
It is also suspected to have ties with Pakistan's military intelligence agency but Pakistan has denied them.
The United States has been pressing the Pakistani army to go after the Haqqani network, but the Pakistanis have not taken any step so far to go into North Waziristan.
However, lately there has been speculation that the Pakistani military is making preparation for such a campaign, which comes after Pakistan agreed last month to reopen its transit routes for supplying the coalition forces in Afghanistan after closing them last November following an airstrike in which 24 Pakistani soldiers died.
CNN reported earlier that Afghan authorities had said Badruddin was killed in the drone strike but that the Taliban had denied it, saying he was alive and in good health in Afghanistan.
The drone strike also killed nine other militants, officials were quoted as saying.
"The Haqqani network has been at the forefront of insurgent activity in Afghanistan, responsible for many high-profile attacks," the U.S. State Department has said, CNN reported.