By Nimra Noor, International News Writer
On October 16, two days after the Pakistan Army’s safe and sound rescue of a Taliban hostage, Canadian-American couple, and their three children who were all born in captivity, a missile strikes by a suspected U.S. drone hit a militant compound in the Kurram tribal region close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, killing 31 extremists, as reported by the intelligence officials. According to the Taliban sources, there were at least five causalities of the Haqqani militants based in Pakistan, leaving eight severely wounded during the Monday’s strike.
The attack was claimed “the biggest terrorist attack of the year” by an Afghan official, Murad Ali Murad. Locals in Kurram reported that they heard the drones and saw a plume of smoke. Residents also said that this was the first time four drones were noticed hovering at the same time in their area.
This strike is the second attack of such nature since US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of offering “safe havens” to extremists in August. However, during an interview to the English Daily, the country’s foreign minister denied any such airstrike happening inside Pakistani territory, with the confusion arising due to the not-so-demarcated Pak-Afghan border. In spite of this, sources said that the mastermind of the school carnage that left 140 children dead in Peshawar city in December 2014, Umar Khalid Khorasani aka Abdul Wali, was killed in this drone strike. Conversely, Khorsani’s militant group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), is silent on any such reports.
According to the Pakistan Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the death of the dominant Taliban figure is seen as a substantial development in otherwise tensed relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, leading towards an improved coordination between the two forces.
However, such drones strikes have always been regarded by Pakistan and Afghanistan officials as counterproductive to fight against terrorism, and during an interview to a private news channel, a Pakistani official commented that the United States should not make any drone strikes in either Afghanistan or Pakistan at a time when Afghan peace talks have resumed.
The very day the air strikes by suspected the US drone took place, four-nation talks on peace and stability in Afghanistan started in Muscat, Oman, with the nations resilient to fight and uproot terrorism from the region.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 24th print edition.
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