US drone strike kills 21 people in Afghanistan
Two missiles fired from a US drone have hit an alleged militant compound in Afghanistan, killing 21 people, according to intelligence officials and Taliban commanders in neighboring Pakistan.
The drone strike took place on Wednesday and targeted a facility frequented by Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, two Pakistani intelligence officials and Taliban commanders said on Thursday.
Fazlullah is the son-in-law of a Sufi Mohammad, an anti-US cleric who was recently freed by Pakistan amid growing tensions between Islamabad and Washington over the so-called war on terror and a range of other issues.
The Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fazlullah was apparently not there but his son was killed. They say the strike occurred in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, just across the Pakistani border.
The United States made no comment on the strike. There was also no immediate comment from the Afghan and Pakistani governments, as well as from the NATO military alliance.
Tensions arose in relations between the United States and Pakistan following US President Donald Trump’s accusations that Pakistan was harboring “terrorists.”
Pakistan has vehemently denied the charge and says it has carried out several military operations in the country’s tribal regions and elsewhere to kill or arrest militants.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of US drone strikes around the world since Trump took office, according to a report published in December by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The US carries out drone attacks in Yemen and several other Islamic countries, claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda elements. However, local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.
American technology giant Google has allowed the US Defense Department to utilize its artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in military drone projects, stirring concern among experts who think such cooperation is not ethical.