- Associated Press - Friday, September 15, 2017

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A suspected U.S. drone strike struck a compound in a northwestern tribal region along the Afghan border on Friday, killing three suspected militants and wounding two others, an army officer and two security officials said.

The strike took place on a border village in the Kurram tribal region, which has served as a hideout for local and foreign militants over the past several years. Pakistan has carried out several operations against militants in Kurram, but violence has persisted.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief media.

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No government spokesman was available for comment.

If confirmed, it would be the first U.S. drone strike on Pakistan since President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan last month. The Trump administration in August infuriated Pakistan when it accused Islamabad of providing extremists safe haven and threatened to withhold military aid. Pakistan and the country’s military have repeatedly said they have acted against the Afghan insurgent Haqqani network and other militants without any discrimination.

The officials said apparently three local Afghan Taliban commanders, including Mullah Asmat and his nephew, were targeted but it was unclear whether they were present at the time. The officials said supporters of the Haqqani network also operate from the border village.

Asmat is a believed to be a relative of Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served as ambassador to Pakistan during the Taliban’s rule.

According to the officials, shortly after the strike residents saw suspected militants transporting slain and wounded persons to an undisclosed location.

Pakistan considers the drone strike a violation of sovereignty, while the U.S. accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens for militants.

In a statement, Zeke Johnson, a senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA, expressed his concern over the strike in Pakistan, saying “the last thing the U.S. should be doing right now is expanding a global, secret killing program. By its own admission, the U.S. government’s use of drones has meant the deaths of civilians and there has been insufficient accountability.”

He said the “U.S. must comply with international law when it comes to the use of lethal force and any potentially unlawful strikes should be independently investigated.”


Associated Press writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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