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US drone attack kills three in northwest Pakistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of an armed US drone

Three people have been killed in northwestern Pakistan after a house was struck by two missiles fired by a US drone, Pakistani security officials and sources say.

The drone attack reported on Wednesday targeted the house in the village of Dapa Mamozai in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Reuters quoted a police officer and an intelligence official as saying.

Those killed have been described as militants linked to the Haqqani network.

Local reports identified the victims as Ehsan, also known as Khawari, a Haqqani commander and two of his companions.

Reuters, however, put the number of fatalities at two, citing an unidentified official at the site.

There has been a surge in US drone attacks in Pakistan's mountainous areas bordering Afghanistan since President Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017.

According to local press reports, the first US drone attack this year came on January 17, seriously wounding a man near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The US president has recently adopted a hard-line position against Pakistan, claiming that Islamabad provides a safe haven to senior commanders from the Haqqani network, a group which often carries out deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has vehemently rejected the claims.

Washington’s ties with Islamabad have deteriorated over the past month in the wake of Trump's angry tweet on which accused Pakistan of "lies and deceit,” adding, “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Moreover, the US further suspended its military aid to Pakistan -- worth about $2 billion – earlier this month.

Over the past decade, nearly all US drone strikes in Pakistan have been conducted within FATA, but a number of Pakistani officials fear the US military under Trump will start carrying out drone strikes outside the tribal areas.

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