US drone strikes kill 11militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — Two separate U.S. drone strikes struck a militant compound in a northwestern tribal region of Pakistan and a vehicle in Afghanistan, killing 11 militants, mostly from the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, officials said Friday.
Seven militants were killed in the first strike Thursday in the Pakistani border village of Gorwak in North Waziristan, once a stronghold of local and foreign militants until the military cleared them out.
The apparent target of the strike was Haqqani network’s local commander, Qudrat Ullah, but it was unclear if he was among those killed when the drone’s missiles struck the compound, two officials said.
The officials said there were unconfirmed reports about the killing of a senior Pakistani Taliban commander, Khalid Mehsud, who is also known as commander Sajna, in a separate strike in neighboring Afghanistan.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Also Thursday, missiles fired from U.S. drone slammed into a vehicle in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province, killing four militants, said Shah Mohammad Aryan, a spokesman for the provincial chief police.
The strike took place in the mountainous Barmal district of Paktia province, where fighters from both the Haqqani network and Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Taliban militant group are believed to operate.
Pakistan opposes U.S. drone strikes, saying they violate its sovereignty.
Confirmation of the strikes came shortly before Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai arrived in Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials.
Friday’s visit came days after Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua traveled to Afghanistan and met with Afghan officials following series of militant attacks in Kabul that killed over 200 people. Janjua’s visit to Kabul was part of a larger dialogue many Afghans saw it as a response to their accusations against Islamabad.
On Friday, Karzai met with Pakistani officials about a week after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insisted that the “center of Taliban terrorism is in Pakistan” and demanded that authorities in the neighboring country “show some concrete action to rid their territory of insurgents.”
Ghani last week sent Afghan officials to share evidence that the Taliban attacks emanated from militant training centers in Pakistan. Afghanistan’s Intelligence Chief Masoom Stanikzai and Interior Minister Wais Ahmed Barmak at the time presented documentation and confessions from arrested men who Kabul believed were trained in Islamic seminaries in Pakistan.
Pakistan and Kabul often trade accusations that the other is harboring enemy insurgents.
Amir Shah reported from Kabul, Afghanistan. Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.