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12 killed in drone strike near Pak-Afghan border

Updated October 20, 2017

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At least 12 suspected militants were allegedly killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan's Paktia province on Friday.

Security sources told DawnNews that a suspected United States (US) drone fired six missiles, killing 12 'militants' and wounding several others.

Earlier this week, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar chief Umar Khalid Khorasani was killed in a strike in Paktia along with nine of his associates.

The recent unprecedented increase drone strikes in the Pak-Afghan border region appears to be reflective of a change in policy in Washington, with at least 70 strikes ─ both drone and ground ─ conducted in Afghanistan in the past three weeks, and over 30 people killed in strikes near the border in the last few days.

The Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and ISPR, the army's media wing, had both claimed that the strikes had been carried out in Afghan territory and Pakistan's airspace had not been violated, amid speculation that the strikes had targeted militants inside Pakistani territory.

The drone strikes near the Pak-Afghan border have increased after the Pakistan Army said that it had recovered "safe and sound" a family of foreign hostages from the custody of a terrorist outfit after it received and acted on intelligence shared by the United States.

The army had hailed the recovery of the abductees as an example of what can be expected from close cooperation between the US and Pakistan in targeting militant outfits.

It is as yet unclear what impact, if any, the drone strikes will have on the push to revive amicable relations with the US.

Human rights charity Reprieve terms the United States' Assassinations Programme "one of the biggest threats to global human rights".

"Under the programme, people are identified as targets and placed on a ‘Kill List’ for future assassination by drone attack on the basis of clumsy computer algorithms," Reprieve says.

One of the first few drone strikes ordered by US President Donald Trump ─ which killed 23 civilians, including 10 children under the age of 12 ─ was described by Trump as a "win".

The organisation claims to have uncovered evidence that the US has breached international law and violated fundamental rights through this programme, "killing thousands of adults and children in the process – 80 per cent of whom have never even been named."