After claiming Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud on November 1, a US drone strike early on Thursday is suspected to have killed at least two members of the Haqqani Network and four others in Hangu district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, making it a first in the area.
The last drone strike in the province was in Bannu in 2008. While Imran Khan, chairperson of the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) claimed it was a strike on an area which was settled, it intensified the party’s resolve to launch a blockade of NATO supply lines from November 23.
The drone strike today hit a madrassa in Tal bazaar claiming two members of the Haqqani Network - Mufti Hameedullah and Maulvi Ahmed Jan, the latter is reported to be close to Sirajuddin who commands the Network, news reports said. There was no official confirmation of the persons who died in the drone strike.
While the Dawn reported four Afghans were killed in the attack, Mr. Khan said that the other four killed were students of the madrassa and the other two were teachers. He said unlike in the past the party would make the names of those killed public along with photographs. In response to questions at his press conference he said even if people were killed from some Network, it was on Pakistani soil and they had a Constitutional right to life. Earlier this month Naseeruddin Haqqani was shot dead in Islamabad raising questions about the top commander’ s presence in the capital.
Pakistan condemns strike
The Government of Pakistan has condemned the US drone strike that took place in Tal at 0445 hrs today. An official statement said these strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. There is an across the board consensus in Pakistan that these drone strikes must end. The Government of Pakistan has been raising its concern over the drone strikes with the U.S. Administration and at the United Nations. The Prime Minister, during his recent visit to the US, had raised the issue with President Obama and other senior US leaders.
The members of the Haqqani Network were visiting the madrassa since the last two days to meet a teacher there. There are unconfirmed reports that this madrassa was a base for Afghan militants.