Roadside bomb kills 5 anti-Taliban fighters in South Waziristan

A roadside bomb killed five anti-Taliban fighters and wounded two others in the northwest on Thursday evening, hours after a suspected US drone struck a militant compound near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, killing three militants, officials said.

The evening incident took place in South Waziristan’s Spinkai area near the Afghan border when a group of anti-Taliban fighters were returning from a function. According to two intelligence officials, their vehicle was attacked using a remotely detonated bomb. The officials said the group was part of a volunteers’ militia helping the military in operations against Islamist militants.

The intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media. They said the group’s leader, Wali Jan, had earlier survived a suicide attack but continued to play a role in fighting Taliban militants. They said the two wounded men were moved to a military hospital. Umar Arshad, an assistant administrator in South Waziristan, confirmed the intelligence officials’ account.

A faction of Pakistani Taliban militants, known as the Sajna group of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the bomb attack.

Pakistan’s military conducted massive operation against militants in South Waziristan in 2009 and continue to try and clear the vast tribal region but militants still show the capability to cross from the Afghan border and plant bombs along the roadside, attacking security forces or their supporters.

Early on Thursday, an unmanned drone fired two missiles at the Ghaznavi compound of the militant Haqqani network’s commander Abdur Rasheed, officials said, killing three militants. The network is affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, according to two intelligence officials.

It was unclear if Rasheed was at the compound at the time of the strike, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The compound is located on the Pesho Ghar mountain in the Kurram tribal region’s Ghuzgari area.

In Afghanistan, Abdullah Asrat, spokesman for the provincial governor of Paktia province that borders the Kurram tribal region, said the drone strike took place on Afghan soil, in Patan district. He also gave a higher death toll, saying that seven militants were killed, including two commanders, and that two were wounded.

The border separating the two countries zigzags across a remote and difficult mountain terrain. The 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) boundary is known as the Durand Line and was drawn up by British rulers in 1896.

Pakistan is building a fence along the boundary to halt the cross-border movement of militants but Afghanistan, which does not recognize the Durand Line as an international border, has objected to the fence as a land grab by Islamabad.

Pakistan opposes the drone strikes, saying they violate its sovereignty and claims it has eradicated militant sanctuaries there. The strikes, however, effectively target hideouts of militants who operate on both sides of the porous border.

Also on Thursday, the banned Pakistani militant group Lashker-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shiite mosque in the Pakistani capital a day earlier that killed an intelligence official and wounded four other Shiite worshippers. Sunni extremists consider Shiites heretics and frequently target them and their places of worship.

Two Pakistani paramilitary troops died and four were wounded in southwestern Baluchistan province after stepping on a land mine during patrol late Wednesday, the police said.

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