Kabul: A suspected U.S. drone strike on a training camp in an isolated part of Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar on Wednesday killed more than 20 Pakistani Taliban preparing to launch suicide attacks in Pakistan, officials said.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the attack, carried out in a village called Saresha Sultan Shah, killed at least two senior figures in the movement, besides someone believed to be a trainer of suicide bombers.
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan or TTP, is separate from the Afghan Taliban and combines a number of groups that fight the government of Pakistan. The U.S. State Department has put it on a list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Sources in the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the strike had killed more than a dozen of their members but said Fazlullah Khorasani, who was visiting the training camp at the time of the attack, had not himself been killed.
The Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday’s drone strike in Kunar, an undeveloped and thickly forested province on the two countries’ border, took place during a visit by senior TTP figures prior to sending the militants into Pakistan.
They said it killed Gul Mohammad, a TTP leader in Bajaur Agency on the Afghan border, and Qari Yaseen, whom officials described as a “master trainer of suicide bombers”. A son of TTP leader Fazlullah Khorasani was also killed, they added.
A spokesman of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission and U.S. forces in Afghanistan headquarters in the capital, Kabul, did not confirm the report. Provincial officials in Kunar confirmed a drone strike had been carried out, but did not say what the target had been.
Relations between Washington and Islamabad have become increasingly strained over the issue and the United States this year suspended about $2 billion in assistance to Pakistan.