HANGU / ISLAMABAD: A drone fired four missiles at a madrassa in Hangu, killing eight people and injuring five others on Thursday.
According to Reuters, two of the deceased were identified as teachers.
Web News reported that the missiles were fired at Islami Madrassa Muktaba Darul Uloom in Tal area of Hangu.
“The seminary belonged to one Qari Noor Muhammad, a previously unknown figure. It was not clear if he was present in the seminary at the time of attack”, an official said.
Local security officials identified two of the dead as Mufti Ahmad Jan, the Haqqani network’s spiritual leader and Mufti Hameedullah, also a member of the network.
Several senior Haqqani sources confirmed the death of Jan, aged in his 60s.
“He was the spiritual leader and head teacher of the Haqqani network,” one source told AFP, adding that Jan was a member of the group’s ruling council.
“He was receiving people who were coming to condole the death of Nasiruddin Haqqani because followers of were not able to meet any other member of Haqqani family.”
Earlier this month the network’s chief financier Nasirudddin Haqqani was gunned down in mysterious circumstances in a village on the edge of Islamabad.
Another Haqqani source said the seminary was an important rest point for members fighting in Afghanistan’s restive Khost province.
“The seminary served as a base for the network where militants fighting across the border came to stay and rest, as the Haqqani seminaries in the tribal areas were targeted by drones,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
An intelligence source told Reuters separately that Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of Taliban-linked Haqqani network, was spotted at the seminary two days earlier.
This is the second drone strike in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in five years. An unmanned aircraft had earlier fired missiles in K-P’s Bannu area in 2008.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the ministry has protested against the drone strike as it is a violation of Pakistani as well as International Law.
He further added that “this issue has also been raised with the United Nations and American officials.”
Yesterday, the United States had assured Pakistan that it will temporarily call off the controversial drone campaign if the Taliban sat across the table with government negotiators for peace talks, the prime minister’s top foreign policy aide Sartaj Aziz had revealed.
Today’s drone strike was the first in the country since Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a similar attack in the North Waziristan tribal district on November 1.
On October 31, a drone had fired missiles at a target in Miranshah, North Waziristan killing at least three people. The drone had reportedly fired missiles at a room and vehicle in the Miranshah Bazaar that caused two large explosions and resulted in the deaths of three people, locals had said.
The number and identity of casualties is often hard to determine because the tribal areas are off-limits to foreign journalists and aid organisations, but the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates deaths at between 2,500 and 3,700.
Hundreds of civilians have died in the attacks, according to various estimates, prompting outrage in Pakistan and abroad.
A major report last month from rights campaigners Amnesty International said the US may be guilty of war crimes.
The Pakistani government officially condemns drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, and last month Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged US President Barack Obama to halt the programme during a meeting in Washington.
Despite their deep unpopularity in Pakistan, the US sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the tribal areas.