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Senior Pakistani Taliban Commander Dies in Attack

ISLAMABAD -- At least two senior Pakistani Taliban were killed by gunmen in the northwestern tribal region on Monday, sources said, another of several blows to the rebels in recent weeks.

A former chief of Taliban decision-making council and the head of its financing committee were among four insurgents killed in North Waziristan district near the Afghan border, the sources said.

Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, who headed the council until late last year, was killed along with three other militants when gunmen opened fire at their vehicle.

Taliban and military sources confirmed the deaths but did not say who was behind the attack.

The government had put a 10-million-rupee (95,000-dollar) bounty on Shaheen's head.

The attack occurred one day after Pakistani fighter jets bombed suspected militant hideouts in the Khyber tribal district for the third time in a week Sunday, killing 38 insurgents, officials said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week authorized military action against the Islamist rebels for the first time since taking office in June.

Months of Sharif's efforts to develop a peace process failed after the Taliban said they had executed 23 soldiers, who had been in their custody since 2010.

At least 90 militants have been killed since then in what security officials called "precision and targeted airstrikes" carried out on the basis of "reliable intelligence."

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