Drone strikes kill 120 militants in Paktia
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Police on Monday said 120 Taliban militants have been killed in Janikhel and Dand Patan districts of southeastern Paktia province, but the rebels disputed the claim.
The Taliban captured Janikhel district three days ago after weeks of clashes with security forces. Public representatives say Janikehl has a strategic importance and other districts could fall to the rebels if Janikhel is not retaken.
Paktia police chief Brig. Gen. Qadar Gul Zadran told Pajhwok Afghan News drones targeted militant hideouts and convoys, leaving some 120 insurgents dead.
He did not directly said Janikhel district had been retaken, but said operations were underway to regain control of the district bordering Pakistan.
A security official, who wished to go unnamed, said the drone attack hit a convoy of vehicles carrying militants in Janikhel.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, rejected the two drone attacks targeted the rebels in Janikhel and Dand Patan, but said they hit civilians.
He said one of the strike hit a religious school, killing a large number of pupils and the other struck elders who the Taliban had invited to hand them over the dead bodies of security personnel. The drone strike destroyed six civilian homes, he claimed.
Mujahid said the fighters avoided assembling in a single area due to the conflict because of possible airstrikes.
The Taliban had laid siege to Janikhel for a few months before overrunning it a few days ago.
Before the district’s fall, senior interior defence ministries officials had visited the district to assess the security situation there.
Relatives of security personnel besieged in Janikhel had protested in northern Baghlan province, closing the Kabul-North highway.
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