43 killed US drone strikes in Afghanistan,

KABUL: At least 43 people have reportedly been killed in two separate US drone strikes in the eastern Afghan province of Nanagarhar on Wednesday.

Nanagarhar provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashriqwal said on Wednesday that the deadly aerial raids took place in two districts of the troubled province late on Tuesday.

The senior security official also confirmed that at least 18 people were killed in Achin district while 25 others lost their lives in Haska Mina district.

There were no exact details about the identity of those killed in the drone strikes.

Afghan government sources say the victims were Taliban militants, including some of their commanders. However, local residents and witness say the attacks claimed civilian lives.

The Taliban militant group has not yet made any comments on the incident.

The US has recently stepped up its drone attacks in the troubled region. More than 90 people have been killed in separate airstrikes across Nangahar Province over the past three days.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regularly uses drones for airstrikes and spying missions in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, among other places.

Senior officials in Washington claim that the targets of the drone attacks are militants, but witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the strikes over the past few years.

The aerial strikes, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have been escalated since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

President Obama has defended the use of the controversial drone attacks as “self-defense”. International organizations and human rights groups, however, says the US drone strikes are “targeted killings” that flout international law.

The United Nations has identified the US as the world’s number one user of “targeted killings,” largely due to its drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In a report in October 2010, Philip Alston, the then UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said the drone strikes were undermining the rules designed to protect the right of life. Alston also expressed serious concerns that the drone killings by the US forces could develop a “playstation” mentality.

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