KABUL:(APS) A US drone strike killed at least 15 militants associated with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan’s Gomal district on Wednesday, intelligence officials said on Friday, as part of an intensifying drone campaign against Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
Three intelligence officials confirmed Wednesday’s strike in an area bordering the South Waziristan region in Pakistan.
“Fifteen dead bodies of killed militants will be shifted soon to their native areas in Dera Ismail Khan,” one of the officials said.
They confirmed that the 15 insurgents belonged to the Gandapur faction of the TTP led by Mullah Fazlullah, who claimed responsibility for the massacre of more than 130 pupils at the Army Public School in Peshawar last December.
Tracking of drone strikes in Afghanistan is patchy – many of them take place in remote regions and are not reported – but Taliban commanders say that fighters there have been increasingly targeted since late last year.
The strikes come a week after Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to end a blame game over a spate of militant attacks and work to restore trust.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made closer ties with Pakistan a priority when he took office last year, hoping Islamabad could push Afghan Taliban leaders to the negotiating table to end Afghanistan’s long war.
The relationship appeared to yield fruit in July with groundbreaking official peace talks with the militants.
But after confirmation of the death of the group’s founder Mullah Omar, the process was suspended and the Taliban launched a wave of attacks in Kabul, killing more than 50 people and souring relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s foreign policy chief visited the Afghan capital Kabul last week for a regional economic conference and also held meetings with the president, foreign minister and national security adviser.
But officials on both sides said peace talks with Afghan Taliban leaders were not discussed.