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Deadly Drone Strikes, Fighting in Pakistan, Afghanistan

  • Ayaz Gul

A suspected U.S. drone strike Saturday in Pakistan’s once militant-dominated North Waziristan border region killed at least nine suspected militants.

Local media quoted security officials as saying that an unmanned aircraft fired two missiles on a compound in the remote Shawal Valley and those killed were linked to Afghanistan's neighboring Taliban insurgency.

However, a Pakistani security official says the strike occurred on the Afghan side of the border. It is difficult to confirm reports from the remote region.

Counter-militancy operation

Pakistan’s military launched a major counter-militancy operation in North Waziristan in June 2014 to secure the border region.

Officials claim to have cleared most of the territory but insist mountainous Shawal is one of the few remaining hideouts where security forces mostly rely on airstrikes to eliminate militants.

The Waziristan region is one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous districts that line the border with Afghanistan and were, until few years back, practically under the control of local and foreign militants linked to terrorist networks, including al-Qaida.

Elsewhere in Pakistan Saturday, gunmen killed four police officers in an ambush in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack.

In Afghanistan Saturday, hundreds of Taliban insurgents attacked a remote northeastern district at dawn and seized control.

Local officials said that national security forces engaged the insurgents for several hours before staging what they called a “tactical retreat” from the Yamgan district, to prevent civilian casualties.

Afghan Interior Minister Sediq Sediqqi said in a Twitter post that Afghan forces were able to repel the insurgents after reinforcements arrived.

Yamgan is in Badakhshan province, which borders Pakistan and China.

Taliban claim responsibility

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement emailed to VOA has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Taliban fighters have also seized weapons and ammunition and inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan security forces.

But independent accounts of the fighting were not immediately available.

Afghan authorities also confirmed to VOA that at least 34 Taliban militants were killed in Friday’s suspected U.S. drone strike in the southeastern province of Khost, which borders Pakistan.

Missiles reportedly fired from an unmanned U.S. aircraft hit a funeral procession for a Taliban commander who was killed a day earlier in clashes with Afghan security forces, officials said, adding, the attack happened few kilometers from the border and a large number of Taliban fighters had come from the Pakistani side to attend the funeral.

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