DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A suspected US drone strike on Thursday targeted a hideout of the Haqqani militant network along Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan, killing four people, officials said.
If confirmed, it would be the fourth such US strike inside Pakistan since US President Donald Trump took office in January.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials and a local government officer said an unmanned aerial vehicle dropped two missiles on a compound housing militants under the command of a senior network commander, Abdur Rasheed Haqqani.
Drone strike kills two in Kurram Agency
Villagers initially reported a blast in the Upper Kurram area to authorities, said one of the officials, adding, “We got it from our informant later that it was a US drone strike that targeted Haqqanis.”
It was not clear if the commander was among those killed, added the officials, who sought anonymity as the issue is a sensitive one.
Trump’s new strategy for the Afghanistan war calls for a tougher stance with Pakistan against militants such as the Haqqani network who have bases inside Pakistan.
Since the Afghan policy review, the US has been pushing Islamabad for decisive action against the Haqqani network militants, who are notorious for using Pakistani soil to launch attacks against American-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Islamabad denies the allegations, and, instead, blames Kabul for not taking out militants who use Afghan territory as a base for attacks on targets in Pakistan.
Drone strike on Pakistani soil detrimental to relations with US: Army chief
The use of US drones has dwindled dramatically in recent years in Pakistan, where the strikes have proven extremely controversial with the public and rights groups.
The first under Trump killed two men riding a motorbike in Kurram in March, while the second one reportedly occurred in late April in North Waziristan.
In a major speech outlining US policy on Afghanistan in August, Trump attacked Pakistan for sheltering “agents of chaos” and suggested ties with Islamabad would be adjusted immediately, but offered few details.
Much of Washington’s anger has been directed at the Haqqani network – based in the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan – which the Pentagon has long accused of having ties to Pakistan.
Islamabad has repeatedly denied claims of being soft on militancy, accusing the US of ignoring the thousands of Pakistanis who have been killed and the billions spent in fighting extremists.
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