DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone strike on Thursday targeted a hideout of the Haqqani militant network along Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan, killing four people, officials said.
If confirmed, it would be the fourth such U.S. strike inside Pakistan since President Donald Trump took office in January.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials and a local government officer said an unmanned aerial vehicle dropped two missiles on a compound housing militants under the command of a senior network commander, Abdur Rasheed Haqqani.
Villagers initially reported a blast in the Upper Kurram area to authorities, said one of the officials, adding, “We got it from our informant later that it was a U.S. drone strike that targeted Haqqanis.”
It was not clear if the commander was among those killed, added the officials, who sought anonymity as the issue is a sensitive one.
Trump’s new strategy for the Afghanistan war calls for a tougher stance with Pakistan against militants such as the Haqqani network who have bases inside Pakistan.
Since the Afghan policy review, the U.S. has been pushing Islamabad for decisive action against the Haqqani network militants, who are notorious for using Pakistani soil to launch attacks against American-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Islamabad denies the allegations, and, instead, blames Kabul for not taking out militants who use Afghan territory as a base for attacks on targets in Pakistan.
Pakistan has been facing a deadly Islamist militancy for more than a decade. Gunmen attacked a minority Shi’ite Muslim mosque in Islamabad, the capital, on Wednesday, killing two people.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, a Sunni sectarian group linked with militant group Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the mosque attack.
Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Clarence Fernandez