Peshawar: A US drone strike today killed at least nine Pakistani Taliban militants in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province near the country's porous border with Pakistan amid an intensified offensive against terrorists in the restive tribal areas using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Militants belonging to the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) terror organisations were killed in the strike, Dawn News quoted Pakistani intelligence sources as saying.
The outlawed Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-i-Islam had recently merged itself into the TTP under a re-organisation planned by militants.
At least nine suspected militants, including the driver of Bagh, were killed in the drone strike in Nazyan district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, near the Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Agency.
Shakir Sipah, a driver of Bagh, was among those killed in the drone attack.
The sources were quoted as saying that the CIA-operated unmanned aerial vehicle targeted a suspected militant hideout with two missiles, completely destroying the compound. Several people were also wounded in the strike. The details could not be independently verified as the access of media personnel is severely restricted in the region.
Militant hideouts have been frequently pounded by Pakistan's security forces in Tirah Valley area of Khyber region.
Khyber is one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous regions governed by tribal laws and lies near the porous Afghan border.
A Pakistani military operation was launched by security forces and aimed at targeting militants in Khyber Agency, particularly the Tirah Valley of Bara which borders Nazyan. The operations in Khyber tribal region were launched amid operation Zarb-i-Azb being conducted by the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan tribal region.
Pakistan Army said yesterday at least 80 militants were killed and over 100 others injured in ground and aerial offensive in Khyber tribal district over the weekend. TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah, who masterminded the Peshawar school massacre, was also believed to be killed after being seriously hit in air strikes.
Also, earlier this month, senior commander Khawrey Meshud, who was a close relative of former Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed alongwith two other Taliban members when the CIA-operated drone targeted TTP militants in Shabak area of Kurram tribal district.
The strikes also come amid warming relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, traditionally hostile neighbours who accuse each other of harbouring insurgents to act as proxy forces.