WASHINGTON - The United States has confirmed that the military operations commander of the Taliban-allied Haqqani network was killed by a US drone-fired missile last week in Pakistan, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing Obama administration officials.

Badruddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the militant group, was the third ranking leader of the group. He was earlier reported killed in the August 18 drone strike in North Waziristan, but US officials had not confirmed it until Wednesday. "We now believe he is dead," an official in the administration of US President Barack Obama told the Post Wednesday. The report said a spokesman for the US Central Intelligence Agency, in charge of the drone operations in Pakistan, however, declined comment.

The Haqqani network has been blamed for using the North Waziristan tribal region sanctuary to mount a number of high-profile attacks on US and Nato troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The US suspects that the group has ties with Pakistan's military intelligence agency but Pakistan has strongly denied them.

The United States has been pressing the Pakistani Army to go after the Haqqani network. Lately there has been speculation that the Pakistani military is making preparation for such a campaign, which comes after Pakistan agreed last month to reopen its transit routes for supplying the coalition forces in Afghanistan after closing them last November following an airstrike in which 24 Pakistani soldiers died.

Meanwhile, the State Department has said the United States and Pakistan can and should do more together to stem militant activities of the Haqqani group. “We continue to try to strengthen the work we do together against the Haqqani Network. Our view remains that we can and should be doing more together, and we are looking forward to being able to do that,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

With regard to the larger counterterrorism US-Pakistan cooperation, the spokesperson said the United States has been encouraged by the recent revival of Pakistani border routes for NATO supplies into Afghanistan.

“We, as you know, are encouraged that the GLOCs (ground lines of communication) are now open, that we are able to work well together on moving cargo,” Nuland noted at the daily briefing.

As for Haqqani forces, The Washington Post pointed out that they were part of the fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and were among those groups receiving aid from both Pakistan and the United States. Jalaluddin Haqqani later became an official in the Taliban government that took over Afghanistan in 1996, and he fled to the Pakistani tribal region, along with Al-Qaeda fighters, after the Taliban were overthrown with US assistance in 2001.

Haqqani fighters regrouped and began fighting US and coalition forces across the border in Afghanistan.