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November 22, 2013

First drone strike in settled Hangu kills nine

November 22, 2013

HANGU/PESHAWAR: Undeterred by strong protests over drone strikes, the CIA-operated spy planes on Thursday extended missile strikes to the settled areas of the country and hit a seminary in Thall tehsil of Hangu district, killing nine people, including a senior commander of the Haqqani network.
Though drones in the past had carried out missile strikes in the Janikhel village of Frontier Region Bannu, Thursday’s missile strike was said to be the first one in the settled parts of the country.
Local residents and government officials in Thall tehsil of Hangu said the drone fired four missiles and flattened two adjacent rooms of the madrassa Taleem-ul-Quran.According to sources, senior members of the Afghan Taliban were staying at the madrassa during the attack. “The drone hit only two rooms where members of the Afghan Taliban were staying. The remaining rooms of the madrassa, which had nine rooms, remained intact,” said one member of the Afghan Taliban.
Pleading anonymity, he said Qari Noorullah of North Waziristan was running the seminary. He himself survived the attack but suffered some minor injuries.Taliban sources said a senior member of the Haqqani network, Maulvi Ahmad Jan was killed along with eight other people, mostly senior commanders of the Afghan Taliban.
The 52-year-old Maulvi Ahmad Jan was a powerful figure and enjoyed immense influence among the Afghan Taliban.He was considered an adviser and a strategy-maker of the Haqqani network, run by Commander Sirajuddin Haqqani.
Maulvi Ahmad Jan belonged to Ghazni province in Afghanistan and had been associated with the Haqqani network and its leader Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani.He did not work in the field but helped to plan insurgency operations against the US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
Four other senior commanders killed along with Maulvi Ahmad Jan were identified as Maulana Ghazi Marjan, Maulana Hameedullah, Maulana Abdur Rahman and Maulana Abdullah.

The identity of the remaining four people could not be ascertained.
The bodies of all the slain men were transported to Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, and laid to rest in a graveyard in Danday Darpakhel village.Members of the Haqqani network confirmed the killing of Maulvi Ahmad Jan.
“Yes, it’s true that we lost another valuable figure this morning (Thursday). Maulvi Ahmad Jan had gone there to receive people who wanted to condole with him over the death of Commander Naseeruddin Haqqani,” said a senior member of the Haqqani faction.
Naseeruddin Haqqani, an elder son of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, was shot dead by unidentified people in Islamabad a few days ago.As part of the wider Taliban movement, the Haqqanis are among the United States’ most feared enemies in Afghanistan. They have been blamed for many of the more than 2,000 US military deaths in the war-ravaged Afghanistan.
The Haqqanis established themselves as key players in the region during the war against the Soviet Union after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. The US proscribed it as a terrorist organisation.
It, however, has suffered significant losses during the past few years due to frequent drone strikes, which has enormously affected its field operations across the border in Afghanistan.First they lost Badruddin Haqqani and then in September 2013, Maulvi Sangeen Zadran, another prominent figure, was killed in US drone strike in North Waziristan. A few days ago, Naseeruddin Haqqani was killed and now they lost Maulvi Ahmad Jan.
A resident of Thall tehsil, Muhammad Hanif said dozens of militants had arrived shortly after the attack, circling the site.“The Taliban militants did not allow even local residents to go and see what had happened,” he said.
“They blocked nearby streets leading towards the madrassa,” he said, and added that it was after the bodies were retrieved and placed in coffins that the local villagers were given permission to have a look of the damaged site.
Local journalists were initially barred from approaching the site of the drone strike but were given access later on the condition that they would not take pictures.The government officials in Thall initially thought it was a suicide attack.
“Initially, we thought that a suicide bomber had hit the madrassa but later we confirmed it was a drone attack,” stated a government official in Thall.Thursday’s attack was the first drone strike in the country after Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed on November 1 in Miranshah.
Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP) Chief Asfandyar Wali, The chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Syed Munawar Hasan, JUP secretary general Qari Zawwar Bahadur, Hizbut Tahrir Pakistan deputy spokesman Shahzad Sheikh, Jamiat Ahle Hadith chief Senator Prof Sajid, PAKISTAN Tehreek-e-Insaf Secretary General Jehangir Khan Tareen Mir, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq, Muttahida Qaumi Movement MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and others condemned the drone attack in Hangu and express grief over the killing of innocent children in the incident.

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