ORAKZAI AGENCY/QUETTA – A US drone strike in Fata and a string of bomb blasts in various cities of the country on Thursday killed over 40 people.
At least 18 suspected militants were killed and 15 others injured when US drones fired four missiles on a compound at Bulandkhel area in Orakzai Agency on Thursday.
A US spying aircraft fired at least four missiles on a house-cum-seminary owned by Maulana Shakiruall. Resultantly, 18 suspected militants were killed while 15 others sustained injuries in the attack. It has also been learnt that about three houses located near the targeted house have also been destroyed.
Locals said it was a centre of militants who were affiliated with Hafiz Gul Bahadar group. Soon after the drone strike, militants cordoned off the area and no one was allowed to access the attack site. The attack by the US drone has created panic among the residents.
Agencies add: The militants killed in the US drone attack were mostly mostly Afghans. It was the second US missile strike reported in as many days in the tribal belt. The attack comes as Pakistan is in shock over the Taliban’s attempted assassination of a 14-year-old child rights activist.
“US drones fired four missiles on a militant compound and initial reports say 11 militants have died,” local administration chief Khushal Khan told AFP in Orakzai district. He said most of the dead were Afghans.
His deputy Rafiq Mohmand later put the toll at 18 dead. “Several militants were wounded who died later and the new death toll is 18,” Mohmand told AFP.
The compound was located in the Baland Khel area on the border between Orakzai and North Waziristan, a Pakistani intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Militants had sealed off the flattened building and were recovering bodies, he said.
The attack was the deadliest since similar strike in August last year killed 21 Taliban fighters in the restive tribal region.
The building belonged to Maulvi Shakirullah, a commander in the forces of Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
Bahadur is an ally of the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network blamed by the Americans for a string of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday a US drone strike targeting another compound in North Waziristan killed five fighters, according to Pakistani officials.
The US is continuing drone attacks despite public protests and formal protests by the government of Pakistan.
Earlier this week, PTI chief Imran Khan staged a peace march to put pressure on United States to stop the drone attacks.
Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lodged a protest with the US Embassy in Islamabad over drone strike inside Pakistani territory on Thursday.
The Embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, at least eight people were killed and 22 others wounded in two bombings in Mushti Mela area of Orakzai Agency on Thursday morning.
The first bomb, strapped to a donkey-driven cart, went off at a bus terminal in Hasanzai Darra area at about 9:45am, killing three people. Moments later, another timed device detonated, when eight people wounded in the first attack were about to be ferried to a hospital for treatment. As a result of the second blast, five more people were killed and 14 others wounded.
Officials of the Bomb Disposal Squad said that up to 30 kilos of explosive material was used in the bombs.
According to a foreign news agency, the Taliban claimed the responsibility for the back-to-back attacks.
The victims were identified as Mohammad Rehman, Zaid Gul, Hayat Khan, Haji Rehman, Wahidullah, Hameed Khan Afridi and Fazli Malik Afridi and an unidentified person.
Soon after the incident, security forces rushed and cordoned off the area, rounding up nine suspects, who were later shifted to an undisclosed location for further investigation.
The injured, among them three children, Kashif, Taj Gul, Rizwanullah, Qaimat Khan, Younis Khan, Gulab Khan, Jan Baz, Mohammad Masood, Roshan Khan, Moeen Akbar, Himat Khan, Abdul Saeed, Yar Khan, Mian Sher, Bahrain Khan, Mohammad Zafar and others, were shifted to a hospital for treatment.
The government and security forces claimed that nearly 90 percent area of the tribal agency had been cleared of militants.
Agencies add: A bomb at a crowded market in Sibi killed 12 people on Thursday, while a roadside bombing in Dera Bugti claimed lives of three security officials.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings.
The first bombing went off outside the market in the town of Sibi in Balochistan, killing 12 and wounding 24 people, said District Police Officer, Ghulam Aali Lashari.
Lashari said the blast destroyed several shops in the town, which lies about 150 kilometres east of Quetta.
Lashari told APP “Unknown men planted 25 kg explosives in a rickshaw and parked it near a tea stall on Nishtar Road and detonated it”. The DPO confirmed that the powerful bomb exploded with a big bang that rocked the entire city and killed nine people on the spot and injured 24 others.
However later, hospital sources said that 12 persons have been killed in the blast. They added that 30 injured have been given medical aid at the hospital.
The blast also damaged four vehicles, two rickshaws and four motorcycles besides smashing windowpanes of nearby shops and houses. The rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the dead and injured to hospital.
Later, some of the injured were referred to Combined Military Hospital due to their serious condition. According to doctors, condition of five wounded was very serious who have been referred to Quetta.
Police while quoting preliminary investigation said that nine of the dead belonged to Sibi and one hailed from Sultan Kot area of Sindh. However, identity of the one dead could not be ascertained so far, police added.
The law enforcement agencies have cordoned off the entire area to trace the suspects. A case has been registered against unknown accused and further probe into the incident was underway.
Hours later, a roadside bomb struck a vehicle carrying security officers in Dera Bugti. That attack killed three officers and wounded two, said police officer Shehbaz Khan.
According to security sources, a roadside bomb ripped through a vehicle of security forces in Dera Bugti, killing three officials. The sources said the vehicle struck a landmine in the area. The dead and injured were shifted to a nearby hospital.