9 September 2010
The latest strike hit North Waziristan, the same district targeted in three other drone attacks since Wednesday and a renowned hub for Taliban militants who have vowed to attack security forces in retaliation.
Hours later in the southwestern city of Quetta, a bomb near the house of the provincial finance minister killed five people, a senior police official told AFP. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The target of the drone attack was a compound in the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. A total of 24 militants were killed in the four strikes.
"Two US drones fired three missiles. We have reports that six militants were killed," a security official based in Peshawar told AFP.
Residents in Miranshah said they heard three huge explosions and later the villagers made announcements from local mosques asking for help.
"Militants have dug out six dead bodies. Five people were critically wounded," a local resident told AFP, requesting anonymity.
Intelligence officials said they were trying to find out the nationalities of the militants killed, but they had no reports about the presence of any high-value target.
"An informer told us there were some Afghan Taliban among the dead but we are investigating," an intelligence official in Miranshah told AFP.
Two other intelligence officials in Miranshah also confirmed the attack and the death toll.
Pakistan's northwest is also a hotbed of sectarian violence, and in Kurram tribal district, bordering North Waziristan to the north, nine people were killed and seven wounded Thursday in a landmine blast believed to target Sunni Muslims.
The nine died after their vehicle struck the landmine in remote Dol Ragha village, close to the Afghan border, which has been a flashpoint for sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Sectarian violence between the minority Shiite and majority Sunni communities has claimed more than 4,000 lives in Pakistan since the late 1980s.
Religious violence has sharply increased in Pakistan over the past week as Muslims marked the last few days of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
A suicide bomber killed 59 people at a Shiite rally in Quetta on Friday, three days after suicide bombers killed 31 people and wounded hundreds during a Shiite mourning procession in Lahore. The Lahore attack was subsequently claimed by the Taliban.
In other violence, at least 20 people were killed and more than 50 wounded Tuesday in a car bomb attack targeting a police headquarters in the northwestern city of Kohat.
Washington has branded the rugged area on the Afghan border -- part of which has been hit by Pakistan's catastrophic flooding -- a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.
US forces have been waging a drone war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked commanders in the northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountains outside direct government control.
Officials in Washington say the drone strikes are a vital tool needed to protect foreign troops in Afghanistan and have killed a number of high-value targets including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
The US military does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the region.
More than 1,040 people have been
killed in over 100 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008,
including a number of senior militants. However, the attacks fuel
anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.