PESHAWAR - Conflicting reports coming out of North Waziristan Agency suggested that 34 militants including key commanders of Gul Bahadur militant group were killed in Pakistan Air Force strikes and clashes in Dattakhel area on Sunday, private TV channels reported.

The development came hours after another top Al-Qaeda leader, Omar Farooq, was killed in a US drone strike.

“Thirty-four terrorists, including some  important commanders and foreigners, were killed in precise aerial strikes in the Dattakhel,” the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a statement.

Earlier reports suggested that Hafiz Gul Bahadur was also killed in the air attack but it could not be confirmed.

The dead are reported to include commanders Sadiq Noor and Akhtar Muhammad along with thirty-two  other militants of the group.

Other reports said that at least seven key commanders of the Gul Bahadur group have died in the strikes.

Pakistani F16 jet fighters targeted the militants compound and a vehicle in Seen Tanga area of Datakhel. Quoting military sources, a TV channel reported that the strikes have been carried out against the militants in the area but their identity and the casualty figure is yet to be confirmed.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur is commander of the Shura Mujahideen in North Waziristan. He had signed a peace deal with the Pakistani army in 2006, which had been renewed in 2008.

Bahadur however withdrew from the agreement citing the military operation in North Waziristan as a violation of the peace treaty.

Hours earlier, a key member of Al-Qaeda and three other militants were killed in a US drone attack on a compound in North Waziristan Agency early Sunday.

The attack came a day after Pakistani forces killed a major Al-Qaeda leader, Adnan el-Shukri Jumah. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation had offered $5 million for his capture in connection with a plot to bomb the New York subway system.

Four military officials said a senior member of Al-Qaeda was among the dead in the strike by a missile-firing drone on Sunday. They identified him as Omar Farooq and said he operated in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sources said that a US unmanned aircraft fired at least two missiles on a compound allegedly used by militants at Khar Tangi village in Datta Khel tehsil of North Waziristan, a mountainous region bordering Afghanistan.

Khar Tangi is about 45 km west of Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan Agency. Four militants, including Omar Farooq – a key Al-Qaeda member – were killed in the attack. Two other militants also sustained injuries in the attack.

Sources confirmed the casualties and said that the targeted compound was destroyed in the strike. They said Omar Farooq was close to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former and current heads of Al-Qaeda. Three Taliban fighters said Farooq, 38, was from Karachi, where he had been a religious teacher before joining Al-Qaeda after the 2001 attack on New York.

Al-Qaeda is closely allied with the Taliban and often work together. Sources said Omar Farooq was a key figure in running the group’s operations and finances in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he also helped direct attacks against Nato troops.

One Pakistani official said Farooq, also called Ustad Farooq, was in charge of Al-Qaeda’s regional media department. “He is the first Pakistani to be appointed to a senior-level position in Al-Qaeda,” a military official told Reuters.

“He has been key in pushing Al-Qaeda to focus on South Asia and helped evolve Al-Qaeda’s South Asia policy and specifically its anti-India activities. It was on his advice that Al-Qaeda officially declared the Pakistan army an apostate army.”

One military official said six men were killed in the attack. Drone strikes often have conflicting death tolls because independent witnesses can rarely access the areas where they take place.

But another senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity that four terrorists were killed and two others wounded. He added the compound belonged to loyalists of militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who leads his own faction in the region.

Drone attacks are widely unpopular in Pakistan and according to survey conducted in June this year, 66 percent of the country’s citizens oppose these strikes. The Pakistani government often publicly protests drone strikes, calling them an infringement of national sovereignty. But many Pakistanis suspect their government secretly colludes to help identify targets, a policy that would be unpopular if it was made public.

Drone strikes in Pakistan stopped for the first six months of the year while the government held peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. But the talks failed and the strikes resumed days before the military announced a major anti-Taliban offensive in North Waziristan on June 15. North Waziristan is among the seven tribal districts near the Afghan border. Due to the operation over one million tribesmen have left their homes in North Waziristan Agency and shifted to downtowns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.