ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s military yesterday achieved another milestone by killing three terrorist leaders in the first-ever strike of a home-made drone. “Three high-profile terrorists were killed when the ‘Burraq’ drone attacked a militant hideout in the Shawal Valley of North Waziritan, which has long been a terrorist stronghold on the border with Afghanistan,” said Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, the military’s chief spokesman.

Militants in the area identified one of the three people killed in the Sunday night strike as Nizam Wazir, a faction leader allied with the Pakistani Taliban. Wazir was being buried on Monday, they told a foreign news agency.

The air attack by unmanned aircraft appeared to be a significant development for the country’s defence capabilities.

Shaukat Qadir, a retired brigadier-turned-analyst, said: “It’s a significant development. We have been hearing about the development of this weapon system for quite some time.

“It had been tested successfully and now it had been put in to use and it has found its target and hit it.”

The homemade armed drone ‘Burraq’, named after the ‘flying horse’ of Prophet (PBUH), made Pakistan the ninth country in the World to successfully develop an unmanned combat aerial vehicle.

Pakistan first successfully tested the Burraq drone in March with the military, hailing it as a force multiplier in the anti-terror campaign. The military deployed two Pakistani-produced unarmed surveillance drones in 2013. Analysts say these drones look very much like those of China, a close ally which has been contributing to advancement of Pakistan’s military capabilities.

Beijing has also been a major partner of Islamabad social and economic development projects, the latest being the mega CPEC development programme.

Qadir said that Pakistani drones were now set to play an important role in its more than a decade-long battle against an insurgency within its borders, which began after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 caused Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters to flee across the border.

The forces launched an offensive against the militants in semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun regions along the Afghan border last year. The campaign against militancy regained momentum after massacre of more than 130 schoolchildren and teachers in an attack on a Peshawar military school last year.

The military expanded the offensive into the Shawal Valley last month, with the use of both ground troops and aircraft.