Parachinar - A commander of the Haqqani Network, a militant group that is fighting against Afghan government and US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been killed in a suspected US drone strike, officials in Kurram Agency said on Tuesday.

Officials told Radio Mashaal that the attack struck a vehicle transporting the commander, Jamil-ud-Din, in the Mata Sangar area near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. One of his associates was also killed in the strike. A witness reported seeing the strike near Mata Sanghar area of Kurram agency, across from the Afghan province of Paktia. “I saw two missiles hit the vehicle and the people inside were killed,” said witness Rehmanullah.  The local Pakistani official said it was unclear which side of the border the attack took place, but authorities were investigating.

More aggressive drone strikes that hit inside Pakistani territory are one of the steps that US officials have said could be taken if Islamabad does not end safe havens for militants.

Pakistan has sought to downplay several recent drone strikes inside the border, with officials saying they were on the Afghan side even though local residents said they were in Pakistan.  In October, three suspected strikes in two days killed 31 people who officials said belonged to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, allied to the Taliban.

Those attacks came days after a Canadian-American couple held hostage by the Taliban were freed from the area in Pakistan’s northwest, striking a rare positive note in the country’s often-fraught relations with the United States.