An American drone attack in a remote northwestern border region of Pakistan has killed at least three suspected militants and injured another, said tribal and local security sources.
U.S. officials rarely acknowledge drone strikes on Pakistani soil, but if it is confirmed, Friday’s attack would be the first since President Donald Trump unveiled his strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia about a month ago.
Sources tell VOA that missiles fired from an unmanned aircraft destroyed a house in sem-iautonomous Kurram tribal district, which borders the Afghan province of Khost.
The house belonged to a local religious cleric, Maulvi Mohib, who was among the slain men. Tribal sources described Mohib as a loyalist of the Haqqani terrorist network, an ally of the Taliban who are fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
In his August 21 policy speech, President Trump accused Pakistan of harboring Haqqanis and Taliban insurgents, warning he would “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe haven for terrorist organizations.”
He went on to criticize Islamabad for taking billions of dollars of U.S. aid while “housing the same terrorists we are fighting.”
Pakistani leaders rejected the charges as an attempt to “scapegoat" their country for “failures” of U.S.-led efforts to secure and stabilize Afghanistan.
The CIA-run drone operation resumed in Pakistan in March after a nine month unannounced break, but there have been no confirmed strikes since June 13, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which tracks the U.S. global drone program.
Friday’s drone strike came a day after Pakistani authorities ordered international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), to wind up its relief operations in Kurram.
MSN is withdrawing from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, because authorities have refused to issue a “no objection certificate (NoC)” — without providing any explanation — announced MSF country representative Catherine Moody on Friday.
“MSF is saddened by the decision… The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with the FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency,” a statement from Moody read. Pakistani officials have refused to comment on why MSF has been refused a NoC.