US drone kills 9 Pakistani Taliban militants in Afghanistan
Peshawar: A US drone strike today killed at least nine Pakistani Taliban militants in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province near the country’s porous border with Pakistan amid an intensified offensive against terrorists in the restive tribal areas using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Militants belonging to the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) terror organisations were killed in the strike in Nazyan district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, near the Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency.
“Nine militants were killed in the attack,” a Pakistani security official said.
Most of the dead were identified including one Shakir Sipah, driver of Mangal Bagh, the chief of Lashkar-i-Islam group.
The outlawed Bagh-led Lashkar-i-Islam had recently merged itself into the TTP under a re-organisation by militants.
The CIA-operated unmanned aerial vehicle targeted a suspected militant hideout with two missiles, completely destroying the compound. Several people were also wounded in the strike.
The details could not be independently verified as the access of media personnel is severely restricted in the region.
Militant hideouts have been frequently pounded by Pakistan’s security forces in Tirah Valley area of Khyber region.
Khyber is one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous regions governed by tribal laws and lies near the porous Afghan border.
Pakistani military operations were launched by security forces and aimed at targeting militants in Khyber Agency, particularly the Tirah Valley of Bara which borders Nazyan.
The operations in Khyber tribal region were launched amid operation Zarb-i-Azb being conducted by the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan tribal region.
Pakistan Army said yesterday at least 80 militants were killed and over 100 others injured in ground and aerial offensive in Khyber tribal district over the weekend.
TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah, who masterminded the Peshawar school massacre, was also believed to have been killed after being seriously hit in air strikes. However, the Taliban rejected the claim and said their chief was alive.
Also, earlier this month, senior commander Khawrey Meshud, who was a close relative of former Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed along with two other Taliban members when the CIA-operated drone targeted TTP militants in Shabak area of Kurram tribal district.
The strikes also come amid warming relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, traditionally hostile neighbours who accuse each other of harbouring insurgents to act as proxy forces.