At least 31 killed in three drone strikes near Pak-Afghan border in 24 hours

  • Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and the United States are meeting in Muscat to revive peace talks with Taliban
  • Foreign Minister Kh Asif urges US to show restraint during QCG peace talks
Pakistan

PESHAWAR – At least 31 people have been killed and dozen others injured in three drone strikes targetting areas near the Pak-Afghan border in Afghanistan over the last 24 hours.

Sources said the drones fired missiles on Taliban hideouts, with all three attacks taking place on the Afghan side.

The attacks came days after a Canadian-American couple held hostage by the Taliban were freed from Pakistan’s Kurram Agency, striking a rare positive note in the country’s often-fraught relations with the United States.

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A drone attack in the Ghuzdari area of Paktia province, near the Pak-Afghan border, on Tuesday killed at least six people and injured one other. Sources added the drone fired two missiles at a house in the area and killed six people and injured one. Drones could be heard flying over the area after the attack.

The first attack of the day occurred in the Khanachi area of Paktia and killed five people and injured one.

Sources added the strikes targetted hideouts of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamat-ul-Ahrar and the Haqqani Network and a total of 10 missiles were fired.

At least 20 people were believed killed and 10 injured in a drone attack near the same area on Monday. Six missile strikes were reported to have been carried out.

Following the strike, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif expressed concerns over the attack fearing that such strikes will interrupt peace talks with Taliban.

Last year, the negotiation process was halted by the Taliban after their leader Mullah Akhtan killed in a drone strike by the US.

QCG Meeting

In an effort to restore peace talks with Afghan Taliban, four key parties – Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and the United States – met in Oman on Monday, local media reported.

It is not confirm yet whether any representative from Taliban side participated in the meeting, which failed in 2015.

Media reports suggest that Taliban had announced not to be part of the negotiation in Muscat, questioning the success of peace talks, which have reportedly been revived on efforts made by Pakistan.

In four nation huddle, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was heading the Pakistani delegation.

However, other parties, including United States, China did Afghanistan did not make any comment regarding the process.

The four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), which met last year, has been making effort to bring Afghan government and Taliban on a table to resolve the issues.

Amin Waqad — a close aide to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during last week hinted at joining the talks by the Afghan government and Taliban team in Muscat.

However, the Taliban has clarified that they did not receive any invitation regarding the talks.

Last year, the Taliban refused to carry on talks after their leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur was killed during a strike by US drone in Pakistan’s premises.