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Suspected U.S. Drone Strikes Kill 20 Militants Near Pakistani-Afghan Border


A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone

Missile strikes by a suspected U.S. drone hit a militant compound in the Kurram tribal region close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border late on October 16, killing 20 extremists, intelligence officials said.

Five militants were initially reported killed but a later search of the compound found 15 more bodies, the officials said.

It appeared to be the second such strike since U.S. President Donald Trump in August accused Pakistan of offering “safe havens” to extremists. An attack in the same region in September left three people dead and two wounded.

Officials said the number of militants present in the compound struck on October 16 showed the site was a main center for Haqqani network militants in the area.

Intelligence officials said the target of the drone strike was Haqqani commander Abu Bakar.

Officials said the missile strikes occurred very close to the porous border with Afghanistan in mountainous terrain. Some Pakistani officials said they occurred on Afghan territory.

The strikes came a day after roadside bombs killed four Pakistani security troops engaged in a search operation for militants in Kurram.

Pakistan considers U.S. drone strikes a violation of its sovereignty. Washington accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens for militants, which Pakistan denies.

Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif said on Geo TV the United States should not make any drone strikes in either Afghanistan or Pakistan at a time when Afghan peace talks have resumed. He said the matter would definitely be taken up in talks with U.S. leaders.

Four-nation talks on peace and stability in Afghanistan started on October 16 in Muscat, Oman.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Tribune.com.pk, dpa, and Dawn
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