ISLAMABAD - A senior leader of the Haqqani network, one of the most feared militant groups fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was shot dead on the outskirts of Islamabad, a Pakistani Taliban commander and an intelligence official said Monday.
Nasiruddin Haqqani was gunned down on Sunday night in a residential area of Islamabad called Bhara Kahu, which is only a couple miles from the U.S. Embassy.
The Haqqani network is a key ally of the Afghan Taliban and has pledged allegiance to its leader, Mullah Omar, though it operates fairly independently. Nasiruddin's presence in the Pakistani capital could raise questions in Washington. U.S. officials have accused Pakistan's intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network as a key proxy in the Afghan war - an allegation denied by Islamabad.
His death will also likely raise questions in Pakistan since he was wanted by the Americans, and the U.S. is often accused of running an elaborate spy network across the country. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the killing.
After the shooting, Nasiruddin's body was taken to the town of Miran Shah in the North Waziristan tribal area - the Haqqani network's main sanctuary in Pakistan - where he is expected to be buried Monday afternoon, the Taliban commander, Ahsanullah Ahsan, and the intelligence official said. The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.
Nasiruddin was considered an important financier and emissary for the Haqqani network, which is currently led by his brother, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Their father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founded the group and is well-known for fighting the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan carry out an operation in North Waziristan to target the Haqqani network and other militants based there who conduct cross-border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has refused, saying its troops are stretched too thin fighting domestic militants at war with the state. But analysts widely believed that Pakistan is reluctant to cross the Haqqani network, believing it will be a key ally in countering the influence of archenemy India in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.
The U.S. has instead resorted to targeting Haqqani militants and their allies in North Waziristan with dozens of drone attacks, sparking tension with Islamabad.
Pakistani officials regularly criticize drone strikes in public as a violation of the country's sovereignty, but the government has been known to support at least some of the attacks in the past, especially ones targeting enemies of the state rather than groups like the Haqqani network.
Gannon reported from Kabul, Afghanistan. Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, and Asif Shahzad and Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.