Peshawar, Oct 13: An American missile strike killed a ranking member of the militant Haqqani network Thursday in northwestern Pakistan, increasing pressure on one of the deadliest factions fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
Two other militants were killed in the attack close to the Haqqani stronghold of Dande Darpa Khel village in North Waziristan, the group's main sanctuary along the Afghan border, said the officials, who did not give their names because they were not allowed to speak to the media on the record.
They identified the Haqqani member as Jalil and said he was a “coordinator” for the group. The men were walking down a street when the drone-fired missile hit, the officials said.
The al-Qaida-allied Haqqani network is one of most organized insurgent factions fighting the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and it has been blamed for high-profile assaults against Western and Afghan targets in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Washington has long urged Islamabad to attack its fighters, which live undisturbed in North Waziristan despite the region being home to several thousand Pakistani troops.
Last month, senior American officials accused Pakistan's spy agency of assisting the Haqqani network in attacks on Western targets in Afghanistan, including a strike last month on the American embassy in Kabul.
They were the most serious allegations yet of Pakistani duplicity in the 10-year war in Afghanistan and sent already strained ties between Islamabad and Washington plunging further. Obama administration officials have since backtracked somewhat on the claims, but the Haqqani network remains the key issue in ties between the countries.
Since 2008, the United States has regularly unleashed unmanned drone-fired missiles against militants in the border region of northwestern Pakistan, which is home to Pakistani militants, Afghan factions like the Haqqanis and al-Qaida operatives from around the world, especially the Middle East.
This year there have been around 50 drone strikes, most of them in North Waziristan. U.S. officials do not acknowledge the CIA-led program publicly. Pakistani officials protest the strikes, which are unpopular among many Pakistanis, but the country is believed to support them privately and makes no diplomatic or military efforts to stop them. AP