Pakistan: Reported US strikes 2017

The timeline below contains information on all US drone and air strikes and other covert actions in Pakistan recorded by the Bureau in 2017. The frequency of strikes in this country decreased significantly in 2016, a pace that continues in 2017, and there is little information in the following timeline as a result.

The Bureau collects information on US actions in Pakistan from as diverse an array of sources as possible. Most information on strikes and the people they kill can be found in reports by national, such as Pakistani newspapers Dawn or The News, and international media organisations, including Reuters, the New York Times and the BBC. Academic and NGO reports also contribute to our datasets as well as our own field investigations.

Please note that our data changes according to our current understanding of particular strikes. The information below represents our present best estimate.

With the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Bureau has also launched a stand-alone project, Naming the Dead, aimed at identifying the people – civilians and terrorists – who often die unnamed in US strikes in Pakistan.

Background

The US has been bombing Pakistan with drones since June 2004. The CIA was responsible for all US drone strikes in the country until May 2016 when a US Special Forces drone strike ended the spy agency’s exclusive hold on the drone war in Pakistan.

The strikes have been targeting al Qaeda and its allies, including the Afghan Taliban, as well as the Pakistan Taliban or TTP – domestic terrorists dedicated to overthrowing the Pakistani government. Hundreds of civilians have also perished, including women and children, as well as many senior members of terrorist groups. However the status of many more people killed remains unknown. They die unnamed, recorded merely as a “militant” in the media reports that make up the bulk of the dataset’s source material. But whether or not they belong to any armed group, let alone their status within that group, is unclear.

Full data

The Bureau publishes a narrative timeline of US strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen each year. The 2017 timeline for Pakistan is below. Links for all other timelines can be found here.

We also publish spreadsheets detailing casualty numbers in each country. You can download the entire Pakistan sheet here. 

US drone strikes - Pakistan, 2017
Total US strikes 5
Total reported killed 15-22
Civilians reported killed 0-3
Children reported killed 0
Total reported injured 1-5

Strikes

T005Ci link

17 October 2017

  • 6-11 reported killed

Two possible drones strikes were reported to have hit on the Afghan-Pakistan border, but, like a strike reportedly carried out yesterday, it remains unclear on what side of the border they fell. 

“Four unmanned drones fired six missiles in Monday’s (October 16) attack, and four more were dropped in two strikes on Tuesday (October 17),” Baseer Khan Wazir, the top administrative official in the Kurram Agency told Reuters. “Twenty people were killed yesterday, mostly from the Afghan Taliban, and 11 more were killed in today’s attacks.” He said all three took place on the Afghan side. 

Taliban sources allegedly said six members of the Pakistan-linked Haqqani Network were killed in one of the attacks. 

We have reached out to Resolute Support to try and determine whether the reported strikes occurred on the Afghan side of the border. We have also contacted the CIA - responsible for the vast majority of US drone strikes in the country. The Inter-Sevices Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, has said the strikes occurred in Afghanistan. 

  • Type of strike: Possible US air or drone strike
  • Location: Afghan-Pakistan border
  • References: Reuters, ISPR

T005C link

16 October 2017

  • 5-26 reported killed

Multiple sources have said a drone strike hit Pakistan, however there is some confusion over whether it took place just across the border in Afghanistan.  

Most sources indicate a house or compound was hit, with reports of more than one drone and multiple missiles being fired at the target. 

Different sources provided different casualty figures. Reuters reported a Taliban source - who claimed six missiles targeted two or three compounds of mud-huts being used by the fighters - saying at least five members of the Haqqani Network were killed and eight others injured. Local sources, according to the Express Tribune, put the death toll at at least 17, with the house struck belonging to a Saeed Karim. Two intelligence officials first told AP five Haqqani Network fighters were killed, including a commander they identified as Sangeen Wali, but said that a later search of the compound found a further 15 bodies. A senior government official told AFP one drone fired a missile killing five fighters, and a second drone fired a further two missiles targeting militants who arrived to retrieve the bodies - a total of 26 bodies had so far been found, he said. 

One Pakistani official told AFP that the target of the strike was “Abu Bakar”, a Haqqani Network commander. However, on June 13 he was reported killed in a drone strike. The officials speaking to AP said the number of militants present in the compound showed the site was a main centre for Haqqani Network fighters. Baseer Khan Wazir, the most senior administrator in Kurram Agency, said four drones said four drones fired six missiles on a Taliban hideout.

Intelligence sources put the location of the attack in Mukbal area, in the Kurram tribal region of the country close to the border with Afghanistan. Meanwhile a local official said the attack occurred in Hangu, which they said was part of Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan. Hangu district appears to be in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Kurram Agency, alongside Orakzai Agency and North Waziristan, all part of FATA, but falls itself in the so-called "settled areas". Hangu town is the administrative centre of the district.  

However, both a government official and the local administration of Kurram Agency have reportedly said it is not clear if the compound was on Pakistan territory.  Two government officials told AFP part of the compound was in Afghan territory. One said the missiles fell in mountainous terrain very close to the porous border with Afghanistan. A security official told Express Tribune one strike hit around 17:37 (local time) along the Kurram border and a second ten minutes later opposite Lower Kurram. The official stressed that both took place in Afghanistan, with only the sounds of the strikes audible in Pakistan.  The Inter-Sevices Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, has said the strikes occurred in Afghanistan. 

Due to the lack of clarity over what side of the border the attack took place on, it will be recorded here as a "C" strike - a placeholder that is not included in the strike and casualty tally at the top of the page until more information that is forthcoming.

T005 link

15 September 2017

  • 3 reported killed
  • 1-2 reported injured

A US drone strike hit Pakistan's Kurram Agency killing at least three alleged fighters, according to government and security officials as well as tribal sources.

Baseer Khan Wazir, the most senior administrator in Kurram Agency, told Reuters the strike hit close to the border with Afghanistan. Pakistani officials told AFP it was carried out in Ghuz Ghari village, which they also placed close to the border. Kurram Agency is in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. 

Wazir said two missiles were dropped on the home of Maulvi Mohib, killing three people. Tribal sources described Mohab as a local religious cleric who was a Haqqani Network "loyalist". Two Afghan Taliban sources told Reuters he was affiliated with the group, although one senior member said he was not a prominent figure in it.

The strike was aimed at a compound where five Afghan Taliban fighters had gathered, according to the officials speaking to AFP. Three of those were killed, while two others were wounded, one of the more senior of the officials said. This was confirmed by two other mid-level government officials, it said. Unnamed security officials told Dawn that while three people had been killed, only one was injured.  

The CIA declined to comment when asked if they had carried out a strike, a position it routinely takes. 

The strike is the first reported since President Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan in a speech last month. In it he vowed to "no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations”, sparking concerns the drone war in the country may escalate.

For more context on the strike, see here.

T004C link

3 July 2017

  • 4 reported killed

A Pakistani newspaper reported a CIA drone strike killed four Islamic State fighters in South Waziristan hours before a US Senate delegation visited the tribal agency.

The drone fired two missiles at a vehicle carrying Pir Agha, an Islamic State commander, and three other men traveling through Marghalan village. Later the same day, a bipartisan delegation of US Senators visited Wana, the capital of South Waizirstan, with Pakistani military brass.

The strike was vaguely sourced, attributed to "sources", and will be recorded here as a "C" strike - a placeholder that is not included in the strike and casualty tally at the top of the page until more information that is forthcoming.

  • Location: Marghalan village, South Waziristan
  • References: Dawn

T004 link

13 June 2017

  • 1-3 reported killed
  • 0-3 reported injured, including 1 possible child

A drone strike in Pakistan killed a Haqqani network commander named Abu Bakar, according to Pakistani intelligence, security and police officials, alongside local residents. 

The strike provoked criticism from Pakistan's military chief, General Qamar Bajwa. While not directly mentioning the attack, a day after it happened he reportedly called on the US to share "actionable intelligence" with Islamabad and said unilateral actions, like drone strikes, are "counterproductive and against the spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan".  

A Pentagon spokesman however told VOA that the US Department of Defence had not carried out any recent strikes in Pakistan. Nearly all strikes in the country have been carried out by the CIA, which routinely refuses to comment. 

While media reports all reported Bakar's death, they differed on the total casualty count. 

A police officer told DPA no other people had been hurt in the attack because Abu Bakar had been alone at the time. However, a resident of Dewal village said three more people were injured in the strike, including a boy.

The Express Tribune reported two "foot soldiers" of the group were killed alongside Abu Bakar. AP said he was killed alongside an aide. Dawn also reported the death of one other person. 

Almost all reporting says the strike hit a house which Bakar was using as a hideout, however where this may be differs in much of the media reporting. 

A security official told DPA two missiles hit the house in the Pakistani town of Hangu. A security official told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty it took place in Speen Tal. There appears to be a Spin Thal on maps, but this is in Hangu district, not in Hangu town. 

The Express Tribune and Dawn both reported the strike took place in Speen Tal, which the former spells as Spin Thall and says borders Hangu district. Spin Thal falls very near Hangu district's border with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA). 

Pakistani intelligence officials told AP that two missiles hit a house in a village five kilometers south of Thal city. Thal city falls in Hangu district and lies close to the border with FATA. It is also very close to Spin Thal. 

92 News said the attack took place along the border areas between Hangu and Orakzai. The news site reported Shaukat Bukhari, described as a deputy superintendent of police, confirming a drone strike in Orakzai Agency.

Orakzai Agency is one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, while Hangu district is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Hangu district borders Orakzai Agency, alongside Kurram Agency and North Waziristan, all part of FATA.

If the strike hit in Hangu, it will be only the third strike carried out in the so-called settled areas of Pakistan, according to our data.

Reports also differed when it came to the time of the strike. Security officials in RFE/RL said it took place overnight. A police officer told DPA it occurred at dawn, while The Express Tribune reported it as a pre-dawn attack. Security sources told DAWN the strike took place on the night of June 12. 

The Afghan intelligence agency has blamed the Haqqani network for the deadly truck bombing in Kabul's diplomatic quarter on May 31. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of Haqqani network, however denied any involvement in an audio message released on June 11.

T003 link

24 May 2017

  • 2-3 reported killed

Reports surfaced of a US drone strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan in the afternoon of May 24.

The strike hit a compound at 12pm local time, according to a statement from the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), described as a military compound by The Nation. 

The Nation said two missiles were fired at the compound, allegedly located in Garvik area, Shawal Tehsil, North Waziristan. 

"Official sources" told The News International that the strike hit a house. 

The TTP later announced the deaths of two followers of its emir for North Waziristan, commander Akhtar Muhammad Khalil. One of the men was known as Abdullah, described by the group as "a great master in electronics.”

The Nation and News International said three fighters had been killed, both identified one as Abdullah Kashmiri. 

Kamran Afridi, an official in the Pakistani border town of Miran Shah, told AP that a strike hit a compound and killed three TTP members, but said it hit just across the border in the village of Gurowek in Afghanistan's Khost province.

However, a spokesperson for Resolute Support said they had not conducted any strikes in Khost or Paktika in that timeframe, the two Afghan provinces that border Pakistan. The spokesperson would however not comment on anything outside of Afghanistan. US Central Command referred us to the same comment from Resolute Support. 

The CIA refused to comment when contacted by the Bureau, a position it routinely takes.

This is the third drone strike in Pakistan this year, the same number of strikes carried out during the entire of 2016. 

T002 link

26 April 2017

  • 7-11 reported killed
  • 0-3 civilians reported killed

CIA drones killed seven or eight members of the Pakistan Taliban, or TTP, according to a senior regional official.

North Waziristan's political agent, Kamran Afridi, told Reuters it was a drone strike.

Political agents, senior officials in charge of Pakistan's tribal agencies, in the past have kept extensive records of US drone attacks and the names of the people killed and injured.

Afridi named Abdur Rahman among the dead. Rahman, a senior TTP commander, was said to have been killed by "several other militant sources," Reuters reported.

Unnamed government and security officials told international news agencies that a drone strike hit in North Waziristan late at night on Wednesday local time.

"We have received reports of a drone attack in North Waziristan in which some seven militants have been killed," a security official told AFP.

A local tribal leader, Malik Waheedullah, told Reuters he watched two missiles hit a house in the mountains. The building caught fire he said, adding: "I drove away as fast as I could."

Three civilian "labourers" were also killed in the attack, Abdullah Wazirstani, spokesman for North Waziristan Taliban, told Reuters.

An unnamed Pakistani intelligence official reportedly told Anadolu Agency that Abdul Raheem had been killed, described as an "important commander of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan". The report has used figures attributed to the Bureau that are not accurate.  

This was only the second US strike in Pakistan of the Trump presidency. It was the first strike in North Waziristan for more than a year.

The CIA, which carried out all but one of the 426 strikes so far in Pakistan, declined comment on this operation.

T001 link

2 March 2017

  • 2 reported killed

A US drone strike killed two men in the tribal area of Kurram, which lies on the border with Afghanistan, according to multiple sources. 

A local government official told Reuters that the drone strike hit a Pakistani village near the border with Afghanistan in Kurram Agency. A village elder said: "A drone missile struck the motorcycle which caught fire and then exploded." 

Three intelligence officials told AP that a suspected US drone strike hit Kurram agency killing two men whose identity they did not know. 

Geo News reported "officials of the political administration" saying a drone strike hit an area of Lower Kurram Agency and killed two people. 

Tribal sources in Pakistan identified one of the men killed as Qari Abdullah Sabari, a commander of the Afghan Taliban, and the second man as Shakir, an Afghan national, according to The News. Two missiles reportedly struck their motorcycle in Sra Ghundai area. 

A Taliban official said that Qari Abdullah, described as a top Haqqani Network commander who accompanied US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl when he was handed over to US authorities in 2014, died in a strike. This is the same name given by the tribal sources in The News, but the Taliban commander said the strike that killed Qari Abdullah took place in the "area of Khost", which is in Afghanistan. He would not confirm if it was the same strike. 

However, a Resolute Support spokesperson said that US forces had not conducted any strikes in Khost in the time frame. 

US Central Command, the American military command responsible for the region, denied conducting the strike, while the CIA declined to comment. 

The last strike in Pakistan took place in May 21 last year, killing the leader of the Afghan Taliban. 

Additional information and context on the latest strike can be found here