A US drone strike liquidated at least nine militants in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province early morning today, intelligence officials said, part of an intensifying drone campaign against Pakistani militants in Afghanistan.
Two intelligence officials confirmed Tuesday’s strike in the Nazyan area of Nangarhar near Khyber Agency. Missiles were fired at the militant’s compounds. They said the nine militants belonged to the Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), which announced an alliance with the Taliban earlier this month.
According to official reports, the killed militants were identified as LI commander Fazal Amin and Wajid from the Malik Din Khel clan of the Afridi tribe. Others included commander Shamat Khan, Commander Sahar Gul and Shakir from the Sepah tribe.
Shakir was the driver of LI Chief Mangal Bagh. There are no reports, however, pertaining to the whereabouts of Mangal Bagh.
Today’s drone strike was near the site of fierce fighting on the Pakistani side of the border in recent days. Fighter jets have been pounding positions in the Tirah Valley in the Khyber region, and the military said it has killed scores of militants. At least seven soldiers have also been killed.
No one tracks drone strikes in Afghanistan – many of them take place in remote regions and are not reported – but Taliban commanders say that fighters there are being increasingly targeted since late last year.
The strikes come amid warming relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, since the Ghani administration
Relations improved after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was elected last year. Pakistan says it is supporting potential peace talks between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban.
Diplomats hope Pakistan can pressure Afghan Taliban with bases in Pakistan to negotiate. But Pakistan has also said it wants to see action taken against Pakistani insurgents with bases in Afghanistan.