US drones hit Pakistani-based terror group along Afghan border

The strike in the volatile North Waziristan region of the country ended with the deaths of five suspected militants, Pakistani officials told the Associated Press. 

Islamabad quickly condemned the drone strikes, claiming the air strike was another example of U.S. forces violating Pakistan's international autonomy. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"Pakistan has consistently maintained that these attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law," according to a statement issued by Pakistan's ministry of defense. 

The fighters killed in Saturday's airstrike were members of the Pakistani Taliban cell led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose forces have been responsible for a slew of deadly cross-border raids against U.S. and coalition forces inside neighboring Afghanistan. 

Bahdur and Hakimullah Mehsud, the alleged leader of the Pakistani Taliban, is among several suspected militants reportedly hiding in North Warziristan and elsewhere in Pakistan's Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), located along the northwest sector of the Afghan-Pakistan border. 

The strike comes days after Pakistan's military leaders kicked off a new offensive against terror groups located within the country's dangerous border areas. 

Government troops were ambushed by militant groups with ties to the Taliban while patrolling in the Orakzai tribal area in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, according to recent news reports. Two Pakistani soldiers were killed and 16 injured during the ensuing skirmish. 

Pakistan's military has hit the Orakzai region particularly hard over the past few days, looking to flush insurgent groups holed up in the area. 

Despite the new counterterrorism offensive, Pakistan's military leaders continue to refuse to advance their forces against insurgent sanctuaries in North Waziristan. 

On Thursday, Gen. John Allen, head of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, met with Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani to discuss Islamabad's ongoing FATA  campaign, according to the AP. 

During those talks, Kayani reaffirmed Pakistan's resistance to military action in North Waziristan, telling Allen military officials would only move into the area if militants in the region posed a direct threat to the country. 

The issue of border security has consistently been a sore subject for both the United States and Pakistan, particularly as the Pentagon prepares to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan over the next two years. 

Border clashes between insurgents and U.S. forces have produced some of the heaviest fighting since the Obama administration surged more than 20,000 U.S. troops into the southern part of the country in 2009.