Posted: 4:12 am EDT
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On March 1, we woke up to a report that two locally employed staff of the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan were killed in Pakistan’s FATA area. There were very few details. It looks like the source of the report was Secretary Kerry who talked about the casualties during his Remarks at the Strong Cities Network International Visitors Leadership Program for Municipal Leaders and Countering Violence Extremism Experts Event in Washington, DC.
The news nugget was in the 27th paragraph of his prepared speech at the CVE event:
I’ll tell you something, I’m always stunned by it. I mean, just this morning I woke up to the news that we’ve lost two local employees in Peshawar who work with our consulate there, who were going out on a effort to eradicate narcotics fields. And an IED exploded and several were lost and a few of the soldiers who were there to guard them also. Think about that.
We went looking for an official statement at state.gov and at U.S. Embassy Islamabad and its three constituent posts but there was none available.
We sent an email to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to see if the mission has any other details to share, but as of this writing we have not heard anything back.
Later on March 1, state.gov put out an official statement of the incident:
Earlier today, I learned that two locally employed staff with the U.S. Mission in Pakistan were brutally murdered in an attack against a Government of Pakistan Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) convoy in Ambar tehsil, Mohmand Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.
On behalf of the Department of State, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of these brave individuals. I know nothing we say can adequately assuage their grief, but they should know we are thinking of them and share their profound sense of loss.
This senseless attack is a compelling reminder of the risk taken every day by our diplomats and the local staff around the world who make diplomacy possible. It also is a testimony to the courage and commitment shown by both Americans and Pakistanis who struggle to combat the scourge of terrorism and build a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for Pakistan. We have offered our assistance to the government of the region in investigating the incident and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The Department of State holds in the highest regard all our host country colleagues who serve in our missions around the world. These men and women choose a life of service to improve the lives of their families and citizens and are essential to helping implement our goal of promoting shared prosperity and values. They are our friends, our teachers, and our guardians, and we are profoundly grateful for the sacrifices they make every day.
The New York Times identified the two employees as Faisal Khan, an “anti-narcotics official,” and Abid Shah, a driver employed by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. They were reportedly killed when the bomb detonated as their convoy was traveling in the Mohmand tribal region. Four other people, including two Pakistani security officials, were wounded. The anti-narcotics team had been reviewing poppy eradication efforts in the area. According to the NYT, Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Express Tribune identified Faisal Khan as a project development specialist for the consulate; other local media has identified the casualties as employees of USAID.
State/INL has the following country program in Pakistan (INL/AP):
INL and the Government of Pakistan have collaborated on counternarcotics (CN) activities since the 1980s. INL’s counternarcotics portfolio includes training and operational support to law enforcement agencies as well as crop control and demand reduction projects implemented through local channels. Pakistan’s CN efforts are led by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) under the Ministry of Narcotics Control, but also include several other law enforcement agencies such as the Frontier Corps- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Frontier Corps – Baluchistan as well as the Home Departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.