The timeline below contains information on all US drone and air strikes and other covert actions in Pakistan recorded by the Bureau in 2018. The frequency of strikes in this country decreased significantly in 2016. Strikes were up in 2017, but not on a scale comparable to earlier years. 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.
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.
The Bureau publishes a narrative timeline of US strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen each year. The 2018 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, 2018|
|Total US strikes||1|
|Total reported killed||1-3|
|Civilians reported killed||0|
|Children reported killed||0|
|Total reported injured||0|
8 February 2018
- 2-6 reported killed
The Pakistan Taliban (TTP) have confirmed the death of their deputy commander in a drone strike. He also is believed to the head of the Mehsud faction that broke away from the group and later rejoined.
The commander, Khan Sayed, was also known as Khalid Sajna or Khalid Mehsud. He was wanted by Pakistan for various incidents, including masterminding a jail break in 2012 during which nearly 400 inmates escaped.
This is not the first time Sayed has been reported dead. Unnamed Pakistan officials said he was killed in a drone strike in November 2015, but a Taliban spokesperson denied this at the time. The latest reports of his death are seen as more reliable as the TTP has appointed another commander, Mufti Noor Wali, to replace him.
According to a BBC analyst, Sayed is the most important militant leader to have been killed since the August 2016 killing of Hafiz Saeed Khan, leader of Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The strike hit close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, but it was unclear on what side it fell. Pakistan intelligence officials have said that the commander was killed along with five security guards as they entered Pakistan territory from the Afghan side, which could explain the confusion.
Anadolu Agency and Express Tribune say the strike took place in Margha area in Paktika province's Barmal district, which is close to the border with Pakistan's North Waziristan but in Afghanistan. The News placed it in Afghanistan's Gorek area. Dawn reported that a political administration official said two missiles were fired at the compound in the Gorwek area, which it seemed to place in North Waziristan. A Taliban spokesperson also placed the strike there.
The details became further confused in March when the US military claimed a Sajna Meshud, described as a TTP deputy commander, was killed in Paktika province's Bermal district on January 27. This is in Afghanistan, but falls close to the border with Pakistan. One report suggested this was the same commander.
Two sources told the Express Tribune that Sanja was killed along with his nephew and two guards. A close aide told Anadolu that two other commanders and the driver died when their car was attacked. Daily Pakistan reports two Haqqani Network members were also killed. Three Haqqani network members were killed and several others were reportedly wounded, according to The News. Geo TV put the death toll at two.
Due to the lack of clarity over on what side of the border the strike hit, we have been unable to include this strike in either the Afghanistan or Pakistan database. We have included it in both country timelines as a possible strike.
The date of the strikes was also not clear, with reporting suggesting it took place on either February 6, 7 or 8.
7 February 2018
Reports surfaced of a possible other strike, but there was a lack of clarity over many of the details.
According to Reuters, four Pakistani intelligence officials and three Taliban commanders said that two separate US strikes hit on February 7. The first was the one listed in the entry below, which they said took place in Afghanistan's Paktika province, while the three Taliban commanders said the second targeted a compound in Gurwek town in Pakistan's North Waziristan. Reuters points put that the two areas are adjacent and so the officials and commanders could in-fact be talking about the same strike.
Meanwhile, AP also reported two strikes, but said these occurred on February 8. One hit Gurwek, the town mentioned by Reuters, killing seven fighters. The other strike hit a vehicle killing four insurgents in Barmal distict, according to a local police chief, but they placed this in Paktia province. Barmal appears to be in Paktika, but the two provinces are neighbouring.
The lack of clarity over these strikes means we cannot include them in our databases. We have recored them as possible strikes in both our Afghan and Pakistan timelines.
24 January 2018
- 1-3 reported killed
- Possible civilian casualties
Numerous sources reported a strike in Pakistan. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry claimed that Resolute Support, the US-led Nato mission in Afghanistan, carried out the strike on an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency. This is in Pakistan's tribal areas.
The US Embassy spokesperson in Islamabad denied that a US strike hit a refugee camp. In a Department of Defence press briefing, Col. Rob Manning III, director of press operations, stated there had been no DoD air strikes outside of Afghanistan on January 24. The CIA has however been responsible for the vast majority of US drone strikes in the country.
The UN refugee agency also said it doesn't have refugee camps in the tribal areas, where the foreign ministry said the strike took place. The Pakistan military meanwhile said it hit Spintal, Hangu district, which is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and not the tribal areas. The district does border Kurram. According to them, there are 43 camps in KP "with overlap" in the tribal areas. The strike, it said, hit an "individual target who had morphed into Afghan refugees".
Most sources, including intelligence, government and security officials, say the strike killed two Haqqani Network militants, but Xinhua reported other officials saying the strike hit a house belonging to Afghan refugees. A local official said the men were both Afghan refugees and mid-level Haqqani Network commanders, which may explain the confusion.
Two intelligence officials named the two reported killed as Nasir Mehsud and Ahsanullah, who, according to a local official, had the alias Khorai. A senior government official in Kurram told AFP one mid-level Haqqani commander named Nasir Mehmood, also known as Ihsanullah Khurya, was killed. The alias provided appears to be very similar to the name of the second fighter given by the intelligence officials. Another source put the number of dead militants at three.
Reports suggested two missiles hit a house, with the senior official in Kurram saying a drone fired a single missile at a two-room compound.
There was some confusion over where it hit. Ameer Zaman Khan, the local police chief, said the strike occurred in Dapa Mumuzai village in Pakistan's Kurram Agency. Local officials told The News the strike took place in Spin Tal Dapa, which was reported elsewhere as being called Spin Tal Dappah Mamozai, described an area bordering Kurram and Orakzai, another agency in Pakistan's tribal areas. Xinhua placed the strike in Orakzai.
The Express Tribune said it was in Speen Thall between the border of Hangu district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Orakzai. Speen Thall falls very near Hangu district's border with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA). Hangu is however in the so-called settled areas of Pakistan.
The statement from the foreign ministry continued:
Pakistan has continued to emphasize to the US the importance of sharing actionable intelligence so that appropriate action is taken against terrorists by our forces within our territory.
Pakistan has also been stressing the need of early repatriation of Afghan refugees as their presence in Pakistan helps Afghan terrorists to melt and morph among them.
Such unilateral actions, as that of today, are detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism.
We have reached out to Resolute Support for comment on Pakistan's foreign ministry's statement.
17 January 2018
- 1 reported injured
Various news sites reported a drone strike in Pakistan's Kurram Agency, but the sourcing was too vague to include this in our dataset as yet.
The strike, according to unnamed officials and unspecified sources in the report, injured one man. He was identified in two articles as Khalid, described as an "Afghan extremist". The officials said he had been severely injured.
Other reports, mostly vaguely sourced apart from one which cited eyewitnesses, said the strike landed on or outside a house in Badshah Kot area, in lower Kurram.
Most news reports said this was the first of two drone strikes carried out near the Afghan-Pakistan border on this day, with the second hitting on Afghan soil.