A third US missile strike in less than a week inside Pakistan again underscores the danger that the escalating war in Afghanistan will spread into its neighbour. At least 20 people died on Monday when up to five missiles fired from US unmanned Predator drones hit a madrassa or religious school and a compound in North Waziristan—part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan.
The strike on the village of Daande Darpkhel targetted Jalaluddin Haqqani, who established the school and backed the Taliban following the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. His son Sirajuddin is now reportedly leading the Haqqani militia and has been accused by the US military of being behind a series of assaults inside Afghanistan, including an attempt on the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Pakistani intelligence officials told the Associated Press yesterday that four foreign militants were among those killed but provided no evidence. The dead included Jalaluddin Haqqani’s wife and sister, several other women and at least four children. Some 15 to 20 people were wounded, mostly women and children, and were taken to the hospital in nearby Miram Shah. Another of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s sons, Badruddin, told the Pakistani media that neither his father nor Sirajuddin were in the compound at the time.