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Suicide bomber kills six and wounds key Pakistan Taliban commander

A suicide bomber wounded a senior Taliban commander and killed six people this morning in a market in a northwestern Pakistani region on the Afghan border, a spokesman for the commander and police said.

Maulvi Nazir Wazir, also known as Mullah Nazir, was wounded in the attack at the main market of Wana, the capital of the South Waziristan region. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack or the extent of Nazir's wounds.

The blast destroyed Nazir's vehicle, killed six people and injured 12, said Maulana Amir Nawaz, a spokesman for Nazir.

"Nazir is a very important commander with the support of his tribe," said Mansur Khan Mahsud, the director of research at the Islamabad-based FATA Research Centre.

Pakistan's semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are dominated by ethnic Pashtun tribes, some of which have sheltered and supported militants over decades of conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Nazir's faction is one of four major Taliban groups that joined the al Qaeda-brokered Shura-e-Murakeba alliance late last year. The others are Hafiz Gul Bahadar's group, the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani Taliban led by Hakimullah Mehsud.

Nazir's group has previously clashed with other Taliban fighters during a struggle for leadership.

There are many divisions among the Pakistan Taliban leadership that have led to clashes. But despite the rivalries, analysts said the Taliban are unlikely to splinter as that would make them an easier target for the powerful Pakistani army.