Unmanned war: 29 killed as US steps up drone strikes

Two Uzbek fighters were also among the dead



At least 29 suspected militants were killed in a series of US drone strikes in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan Saturday morning. In Pakistan, the first US drone strike of 2016 took place in Datta Khel tehsil of North Waziristan Agency.

A remotely-piloted US aircraft targeted a compound of militants in Mangrooti village of Shawal Valley on the border with Afghanistan, administration officials said. The drone fired two missiles at the compound, destroying most parts of it. Taliban militants who have fled Operation Zarb-e-Azb are holed up in Shawal Valley, according to officials.

At least five militants — including Maulana Noor Saeed, a key commander of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – were killed and two others wounded in the Mangrooti attack. Two Uzbek fighters were also among the dead, while the identity of the remaining militants was not immediately known.

Hours before the attack, at least 20 militants belonging to the Islamic State, also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish, were killed in a US drone strike in Acheen district of the Afghan province of Nangarhar. Similarly, four militants were killed in a similar US drone strike in the Afghan province of Kunar.

In Acheen, the US pilot-less aircraft targeted a Da’ish compound set up in an abandoned government property. Officially, there was no word on the identity of those killed, but Afghan sources say some of them were foreigners. Reports suggest several militants were also wounded in the strike.

Da’ish militants have been fighting a battle for their survival in Acheen and Nazyan districts of Nangarhar province. The two districts are dominated by Shinwari tribesmen, most of whom have fled fierce fighting between Da’ish militants and Afghan Taliban to seek shelter in Jalalabad and other parts of Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.


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