25 Jan 2018

Pakistan condemns US drone strike

6:01 pm on 25 January 2018

Pakistan has condemned a "unilateral" US military drone strike inside its territory that security officials said killed two members of the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network, adding to already tense relations between the uneasy allies.

A Pakistani tribesman inspects the site of a drone strike in Mamuzai in the Kurram tribal district.

A Pakistani tribesman inspects the site of a drone strike in Mamuzai in the Kurram tribal district. Photo: AFP

The unmanned aircraft's missiles "targeted an Afghan refugee" camp in Pakistan's northwestern Kurram region, a statement from the Pakistani foreign office said.

"Such unilateral actions ... are detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism," the Pakistani statement said.

The US-led military mission in Afghanistan, which trains and assists Afghan government forces fighting the Taliban, said it "regularly conducts offensive operations within the borders of Afghanistan with the intent of bringing security and stability not only to Afghanistan, but also the entire region", but said it had no information on the drone strike reports.

Two missiles hit a house and killed Haqqani network militants Ahsan Khorai and Nasir Mehmood in the village of Dapa Mamozai in Kurram, according to a police officer and an intelligence official.

"Two militants from Haqqani network were killed in the drone attack," the intelligence official based in the area said.

There has been an uptick in US drone strikes inside Pakistan in the mountainous border regions bordering Afghanistan since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, though they are a long way off their peak in 2010.

Trump has taken a hardline stance on Pakistan, which he says provides safe haven to high-level commanders from the Haqqani network, a group which often conducts deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad have frayed over the past month in the wake of Trump's angry tweet on about Pakistan's "lies and deceit" over its alleged support for the Afghan Taliban and their allies.

The United States this month also suspended military assistance worth about US$2 billion.

Islamabad denies sheltering militants and accuses Washington of not respecting Pakistan's vast sacrifices in the war on militancy.

Over the past decade, almost all US drone strikes inside Pakistan have taken place within the border areas, but some Pakistani officials fear the United States under Trump will begin carrying out strikes outside the tribal areas.

- Reuters