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21 Taliban terrorists killed in US drone strike in Afghanistan

Sgt. 1st Class James Lee provides aerial security from the rear door of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter over the Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, Feb. 24, 2010. (U.S. Army)
March 12, 2018

A successful U.S. drone strike on Wednesday killed 21 Taliban insurgents stationed inside a militant facility in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, the Associated Press reported.

Two missiles fired from the drone destroyed the intended target, which officials say was a base frequented by Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. While Fazlullah was not present during the strike, his son is thought to be among those killed.

The attack in the eastern Afghan border province of Kunar targeted a training camp of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, where would-be suicide bombers were being trained, according to Afghan officials and Pakistani intelligence sources.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials and local Taliban commanders confirmed the strike on Thursday, and they spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. so far has made no comment on the strike, and NATO and Afghan authorities have also remained silent.

The drone strike came a day after the U.S. announced it was offering a $5 million reward for information on Pakistani Taliban leader Fazlullah. There is also a $3 million reward for each of the two other anti-Pakistan militant commanders believed to be operating out of the Afghan border regions.

“Each of these individuals is believed to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of the United States and its nationals,” the State Department said Thursday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua is currently in Washington, D.C., where she is believed to be discussing coordinated efforts with the Trump Administration to combat terror threats and other issues in her country. Pakistan has routinely asked Washington to take action against Fazlullah and other Pakistani Taliban members believed to be hiding in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s boarder with Afghanistan has also been an issue in recent years, with Afghani militants able to easily cross into Pakistan to launch attacks.

While Pakistan has often expressed a desire for cooperation in fighting these terrorist threats across the Middle East, both U.S. and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban leaders and militants linked to the allied Haqqani network. President Donald Trump has also criticized Pakistan’s efforts in the past, tweeting out in January: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies [and] deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”