PESHAWAR: Mystery shrouded US drone strikes in the Pak-Afghan border area amid conflicting account details as sources confirmed that over two dozen people had been killed in two days of attacks in and near Kurram Agency but political administration as well as Pakistan Army denied that the strikes took place inside the Pakistani territory.Officials said Tuesday that the death toll from a US drone attack on a meeting in a compound used by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network in Pakistan’s remote tribal Kurram district along the Afghan border has risen to 26. “First drone strike killed five fighters from Haqqani network and minutes apart a second drone then fired two more missiles after militants arrived to retrieve dead bodies from the rubble,” a senior government official in Kurram told AFP. “So far 26 dead bodies have been retrieved and drones are still flying in the sky,” the official said.A second government official in Kurram confirmed the drone strikes and the new death toll.While AFP reported that the Monday strikes occurred in Pakistan’s Kurram Agency, the local political administration said that the strikes in fact targeted militants in the Shpola area of Afghanistan’s Paktia province.Five people were killed on Tuesday in the fourth drone strike along the Pak-Afghan border near Kurram Agency since Monday, the local political administration said.The strike was the third in the day and fourth since last night. Local sources said drones have been hovering around the area since Monday.“Four unmanned drones fired six missiles in Monday’s attack, and four more were dropped in two strikes on Tuesday,” Baseer Khan Wazir, the top administrative official in the Kurram Agency, said. The drones fired missiles on Taliban hideouts, killing at least 31 people over two days, he added, with all three attacks taking place on the Afghan side. “Twenty people were killed yesterday, mostly from the Afghan Taliban, and 11 more were killed in today’s attacks,” Wazir said.Taliban sources said 18 members of Haqqani militants, allied to the Taliban, were killed in Monday’s strike and six in one of Tuesday’s attacks.“There were some mud-built houses which were being used by the mujahideen (Afghan Taliban fighters),” said a member of the Afghan Taliban, who asked not to be identified.No prominent militants were in the area when the drones targeted two or three different compounds, he added.Another Taliban source said two commanders were killed in Monday’s attack, however. Witnesses said they heard the drones and saw plumes of smoke before seeing 20 makeshift coffins moved out of the area.Pakistan Army, however, maintained that there have been no recent drone strikes inside the Pakistani territory. “There has been no air [space] violation along the Pak-Afghan border … nor any drone strike in Kurram Agency as being misreported by a few [media outlets],” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Tuesday night.It clarified that the sound of aerial bombardment in the region was actually due to joint operations being conducted in the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Paktia by the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and Afghan forces.The two provinces are adjacent to Kurram Agency where Pakistan Army last week rescued a Canadian-American couple and their three children from Taliban captivity in a daring operation.According to the ISPR statement, a number of air engagements have taken place in Khost and Paktia during the last 24 hours with reports of heavy losses to terrorists.The ISPR added that since Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent visit to Afghanistan, coordination between the security forces of the two countries has enhanced. “The RSM had shared details about these operations within the Afghan territory.”Pakistan Army, it said, is vigilant on its side of the border, and that better security coordination will take both countries towards enduring peace and stability by defeating the common enemy.Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif also claimed that the recent US drone attacks targeted Pak-Afghan border area but did not happen inside Pakistan’s territory. He said since the Pak-Afghan border “is not as well-defined as our eastern border”, therefore, no one can be certain about which country was attacked. Published in Daily Times, October 18th 2017.