A U.S. drone killed three suspected militants in an attack on a compound in Pakistan’s tribal region on Friday, officials said, in the first strike since President Donald Trump vowed to crack down on the country.
Pakistani officials said the strike took place in remote Ghuz Ghari village in Kurram Agency, close to the Afghan border where at least five fighters from the Afghan Taliban had gathered. “The U.S. drone fired two missiles, at least three fighters from the Afghan Taliban have been killed and two wounded,” said a senior government official in Kurram.
The identities of those killed and wounded remained unclear but an intelligence official in Kurram said one of the dead belonged to the Haqqani Network.
Two other mid-level government officials confirmed the strike and casualties and told AFP that the compound was completely destroyed in the attack.
The use of U.S. drones has dwindled dramatically in recent years in Pakistan, where the strikes have proven extremely controversial with the public and rights groups over human rights and sovereignty concerns. The U.S. is believed to have ordered at least two other drone attacks this year.
The first U.S. strike under the Trump administration killed two men riding a motorbike in Kurram in March, while the second suspected attack happened in late April in North Waziristan, one of seven tribal districts stretching along the Afghan border.
In a major speech outlining U.S. policy on Afghanistan last month, Trump lambasted Pakistan for sheltering “agents of chaos” and suggested ties with Islamabad would be adjusted immediately. He offered few details.
Much of the Washington’s anger has been directed at the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, based in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which the Pentagon has long accused of having ties to Pakistan’s military establishment. Led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is also the Taliban’s deputy leader, they have orchestrated numerous operations deep in the heart of Kabul, and have been blamed by Afghan officials for a devastating truck bombing that killed more than 150 people in the capital in May.
Islamabad has repeatedly denied claims of being soft on militancy, accusing the United States of ignoring the thousands who have been killed in Pakistan and the billions spent fighting extremists. Analysts have long alleged that Pakistan offers support to militant proxies, including the Afghan Taliban, as a bulwark against what it considers to be the existential threat of neighboring India.