KHYBER AGENCY - At least seven militants were killed and two others sustained injuries when a US drone targeted a boat carrying suspected terrorists on Kabul River near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Saturday, official and local sources said.
This is the first attack of its kind in the region. Officials in Pakistan’s tribal belt said the attack was carried out on the Afghan side of the border. Some media reports, however, said the strike happened inside Pakistan’s Khyber tribal region.
The intelligence sources confirmed the incident and said the unmanned US plane fired two missiles while targeting a boat inside Afghanistan in River Kabul at Mach-Megee area of Lal Poora district (Ulaswali) half kilometer from Pakistani tribal area of Loy- Shelman, of tehsil Landi Kotal. Seven on-board suspected militants and a sailor were killed on the spot, sources said.
The two injured, identified as Ahmad Abdul Khan and Shabir, were shifted to Landi Kotal hospital and later they were referred to Peshawar hospital, sources said. One deceased was identified as Gul Rang. Talking on phone from undisclosed location, militant commander Abdul Agha confirmed the strike and said the six men killed were their fighters and their bodies had been missing as they drowned after attacked.
The residents of the area said dwellers of both sides on Pak-Afghan border were using boats to cross the River Kabul to reach their destination which was attacked by US drone.
The boat was reportedly carrying suspected terrorists from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Reports said the dead were Afghan Taliban members.
In the past, drones have targeted compounds and vehicles in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt. This was the first time a boat was targeted, official sources said.
The attack came days after the US reportedly warned Pakistan that reimbursements for its expenses on the war on terror and security assistance could be held up if land routes used to send US and Nato cargo to Afghanistan remained closed.
The warning was reportedly conveyed by visiting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel during his meetings with Pakistani leaders. Hagel met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif during his trip.
Nato supply routes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been blocked by workers of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party to protest against US drone strikes.
The strikes are an emotional issue in Pakistan, which says the attacks violate its sovereignty and are counter-productive for the war on terror.
However, reports suggest Pakistan had an unwritten agreement with the US in the past on drone strikes. A number of high-profile terrorists, including two chiefs of the Pakistani Taliban, have been killed by drones.
At least five drone attacks have taken place in Tirah Valley near the bordering area in Khyber Agency. On November 29, a strike killed two in North Waziristan, on Nov 21, a strike in Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa killed six Haqqani network officials. And Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in North Waziristan by a drone on Nov 1.
It should be mentioned here that the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the government to stop US drone strikes in Pakistan.
The unanimously approved resolution said that drone attacks were against the sovereignty of the country and should be stopped at once.
The resolution further said that drone strikes were not only against solidarity of the country, but it was also in brazen violation of the United Nations Charter and human rights.
Jamaat-e-Islami member National Assembly, Naima Kishwar had moved the resolution and the House accepted it unanimously.