Thousands have attended the weekend funerals of 21 Pakistani militants killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan, local officials and residents said, with one of them putting the total death toll around 50.
The strike was carried out on Wednesday on a training camp in the eastern province of Khost near the border with Pakistan, local authorities said. They said it was launched by the United States. There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S.-dominated NATO force, which is combating Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan.
It is unclear how many people were killed. The Khost provincial governor put the figure as high as 50 but that could not be confirmed.
A local Pakistani security official and residents told AFP Sunday that 21 bodies were brought to the Upper and Lower Dir districts for burial.
“I myself attended the funeral prayer of four fighters, villagers told me they were mujahideen,” said Alamzeb Khan, a district official in Lower Dir.
Khan said the coffins were wrapped in the flag of Al Badr, a Pakistani militant group linked to the Taliban, and guests at the funeral shouted jihadi slogans against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The bodies were badly mutilated, and one villager who attended the funeral said the names of the fighters had been written on the wooden coffins for identification.
“I fear that the number of fighters killed in the drone strike was high and we may receive more dead bodies,” the security official told AFP.
Khost provincial governor Hukum Khan Habibi said the strike was staged on Wednesday. “In this incident, more than 50 Pakistani fighters were killed.”
Faizullah Ghairat, Khost provincial police chief, confirmed the attack and said it was carried out by the U.S.