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Taliban leader killed by US drone

ISLAMABAD — A US drone strike in the South Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan killed at least six people, Pakistani government officials said Thursday, including the powerful Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir Wazir.

Nazir was killed along with another key commander, Rapa Khan, and four other militants in the missile strike Wednesday on Nazir’s ­vehicle near Wana, the largest town in the South Waziristan area, said a government official who asked that his name not be used.

‘‘Mullah Nazir was going in a car from Birmal village to Wana when his vehicle was hit by the drone strike,’’ said the official. He said all six slain militants were in the car.

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Some Pakistani news channels, quoting local administration officials, put the death toll at nine. One such report also said the drone strike that killed Nazir struck a house near Wana where he and other militants were present.

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A Pakistani intelligence official in the area confirmed the reports of Nazir’s killing. However, the Taliban group led by Nazir did not confirm or deny his death, and there was no official confirmation by the Pakistani government.

Pentagon spokesman George Little could not confirm Nazir’s death, but said it could be a major development, if corroborated.

‘‘As a general matter, any time a bad guy has a bad day, that’s a good day for us,’’ he told reporters Thursday morning.