Officials say at least seven militants, including two commanders, among the deceased
A suspected U.S. drone strike on a house in a remote tribal area bordering Afghanistan has killed at least seven militants, security officials said on Thursday. If confirmed the attack would be the second drone raid under the administration of United States President Donald Trump.
The use of drones has dwindled in Pakistan, where they have proven extremely controversial with the public and rights groups over human rights and sovereignty concerns. The suspected strike happened on Wednesday in the Lawara Mandi area of North Waziristan, one of seven so-called tribal districts stretching along the border with Afghanistan, where Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for more than a decade and a half.
“We have received reports of a drone attack in North Waziristan in which some seven militants have been killed,” a security official told AFP. Local intelligence officials said drones were seen in the area before two missiles hit a house in Lawara Mandi area, believed to be used by the umbrella Taliban militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
“There are two militant commanders, Abdul Rehman and Akhtar Mohammad among the dead,” an intelligence official told AFP requesting anonymity. Officials said the missiles could have been fired by U.S. drones, but declined to confirm the origin of the strike.
The previous U.S. strike under the Trump government killed two men riding a motorbike in northwestern Kurram in March.
The U.S. has rattled the international community with its recent military moves, including the decision to drop its largest non-nuclear weapon on hideouts of the Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan in early April. U.S. National Security Adviser Lieutenant-General H.R. McMaster made a visit to Pakistan this month after suggesting Washington may take a stronger line with Islamabad, for years seen as an unreliable U.S. ally.
U.S.-led NATO troops have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The first of the more than 420 drone attacks in Pakistan occurred in 2004 under the government of President George W. Bush, but it was under President Barack Obama that their use increased substantially, before tapering off in his second term.
Last year there were only three, including the May 2016 drone strike that killed then-leader of Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Balochistan province.
In 2013, Amnesty International said the U.S. could be guilty of war crimes by carrying out extrajudicial killings. Pakistan has also targeted militants with domestic armed drone systems, developed two years ago, but it rarely uses them to strike Taliban groups.