A senior member of the high-profile extremist group Haqqani Network was among six killed by an apparent U.S. drone strike on a seminary in Pakistan on Thursday, according to regional sources.
Reuters reports Maulvi Ahmad Jan was in a madrassa in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in far northern Pakistan when at least three rockets struck the room he was in, killing him early Thursday. Jan was a senior adviser to Sirajuddin Haqqani, considered the head of the Taliban-linked network, according to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security
If linked to the U.S., this would be the first drone strike in Pakistan since the Nov. 1 targeting of Hakimullah Mehsud, a leader of the Pakistani Taliban also based in the remote and largely ungoverned Federally Administered Tribal area in the northern reaches of the country.
"Yes it's true, we lost another valuable figure this morning," a senior Haqqani official said to Reuters.
The Pakistani government, particularly its more populist public figures openly denounce the ongoing U.S. drone program there.
But behind closed doors, Pakistani lawmakers are at least complicit in and may even endorse the strikes, according to leaked documents obtained by The Washington Post in October.
The issue received limited attention in Washington at the end of October when a Pakistani family claiming to have been the victims of a drone strike in the northern tribal region of Waziristan spoke at a congressional briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla. Only five members of Congress attended.
There have been at least 350 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The vast majority of those strikes – all but a few dozen – have taken place during President Obama's tenure. As many as 3,600 have died in these strikes in Pakistan, including roughly 1,000 civilians.
Six people were killed in Thursday's attack, according to sources who spoke with Pakistan news agency Dawn. It reported Jan came to the madrassa to visit Gul Marjan, a teacher. Local residents reported seeing the suspected militants for the last three or four days, and heard drones flying overhead.
None of the students sleeping in nearby rooms were hurt, according to security sources there.