23 July 2012
Miranshah, Pakistan (AFP) - A US drone attack on Monday killed at least 10 militants in a restive northwestern Pakistani tribal area, security officials said.
The missiles struck a militant compound in the Shawal area of the troubled North Waziristan tribal district on the Afghan border.
"US drones fired up to six missiles into a militant compound. The death toll in the drone attack has risen to 10 and two others were wounded," a security official told AFP.
"The bodies had been charred," he added.
The local intelligence officials confirmed the attack and casualties.
"It was not immediately clear if any important militant had been killed in the attack. We are trying to ascertain the identities," the official said.
The targetted compound was in Dray Nashtar village, some 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan which is known as a hotbed of Taliban militants.
Local residents said militants cordoned the area around the compound and were taking out bodies and wounded colleagues.
"A fire erupted in the compound after some four to six missiles hit it," a local tribesman told AFP, requesting anonymity as he feared militants.
Washington considers Pakistan's semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
In a drone attack at the start of July, six militants were also killed and an attack on June 4 killed 15 militants, including senior Al-Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.
There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May when a NATO summit in Chicago could not strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on NATO supplies crossing into Afghanistan.
On July 3 however, Islamabad agreed to end the blockade after the United States said sorry for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in botched air strikes last November.
Pakistan says American raids are a violation of sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, while US officials are understood to believe the attacks too important to give up.
Pakistan's spymaster, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam, is due to visit the United States next week to resume talks on intelligence cooperation and drone strikes.
It will be the first time in a year the head of the military's ISI intelligence agency flies to Washington, signalling a thaw in relations beset by crisis since US troops killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.
In protest over US drone attacks, local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur have banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, putting 240,000 children in the region at risk.
They have condemned the immunisation campaign as a cover for
espionage. In May, a Pakistani doctor was jailed for 33 years after
helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination
programme as a cover.