US drone strike kills two militants in Pakistani tribal region

PESHAWAR: In this file photo, a Pakistan army soldier stands guard in Pakistani tribal area of Khyber, near Torkham border post between Pakistan and Afghanistan.-AP

PESHAWAR: A suspected US drone strike in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region yesterday killed two militants, three intelligence officials said. The latest strike took place in the Kurram tribal region bordering Afghanistan and the identity and nationality of the slain men were not immediately known, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to media on the record. Pakistan’s military and the CIA’s drone strikes have killed thousands of Pakistani and foreign militants in the tribal regions since Sept 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

The drone strike came on the same day that Pakistan’s cabinet approved a set of reforms that will bring the tribal regions under government control, an aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. The reforms will be implemented over a five-year period after a merger of the tribal regions with Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, he said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to disclose the information before it was released officially.
Also yesterday, Pakistani police shot and killed a vendor they suspected of being a suicide bomber in the northwestern city of Mardan, a police officer Mumtaz Khan said. The vendor was riding a bicycle and didn’t stop at a checkpoint outside a courthouse, he said. Khan said the police first rammed a vehicle into the bicycle when the vendor didn’t listen to warning shouts and shot him when he tried to run away. The man died later and no explosives or weapons were found, he said. “I don’t understand why the vendor would keep going (even though) we were giving him loud warnings,” said another officer, Zeb Bakhtiar, who was at the checkpoint.

Pakistani police have been on high alert after a recent string of suicide bombings that have killed more than 125 people, the latest of them inside a court building in another northwestern city. Pakistani Taliban-linked militants and the Islamic State group have claimed the brazen attacks. The Pakistani Taliban, their allied local militant groups and al-Qaida-linked foreign militants have been operating from the country’s lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border. The rough terrain consists of long swathes of land that has historically been ruled by a set of local tribal laws, effectively denying access to the Pakistani police and judicial system there.

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