A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan Monday evening missed the leader of Pakistan's notorious Haqqani network by minutes but killed roughly twenty other militants, including one top commander of the terrorist group, as they gathered for a meeting, a Pakistani local intelligence official and a local government official confirmed to Circa.
U.S. intelligence officials would not comment on the strike but news reports from the region earlier in the evening suggest only five people were killed in the strike. Intelligence officials in Pakistan said one of the Haqqani's top commanders, Sangeen Wali, was killed during the strike, as reported by other outlets.
However, the Haqqani network's deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who also operates as the military commander of the Taliban and whose group is believed to be behind the kidnapping of recently released American hostages, was on his way to the meeting when the strike occurred. The Pakistani military and its intelligence apparatus, the Inter Services Intelligence Agency, recovered American hostage Caitlin Coleman, her three children and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle Thursday, after spending more than five years in captivity.
"The drone hit the hideout before his arrival," said the local source, who was not authorized to speak on the matter but said roughly four to five missiles hit the compound. The area is known to be a hub for the Haqqani network and Taliban, according to western and Pakistani intelligence.
Sirajuddin Haqqani was expected to chair the meeting but was later than the rest of the guests when the drone strike occurred on the compound, which was located in the Maqbal area of Kurram agency, in the North West border region. The Maqbal district is in the semi-autonomous tribal region, along the Pakistan and Afghanistan border.
According to a local intelligence official, multiple U.S. missiles targeted the compound from a drone strike, according to the Pakistani sources.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, who recently visited Washington D.C., told Pakistan's "Geo News" Monday evening that the U.S. should stop the drone strikes, while efforts are underway to bring the Taliban to the table.
Sajid Khan reported from Pakistan
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