MIRAMSHAH – A US drone strike Sunday killed at least seven suspected militants in North Waziristan days before the country’s intelligence chief visits Washington with the contentious raids likely to be discussed.
It was the second attack in the month of Ramazan. A US unnamed aircraft reportedly fired missiles that struck a compound and a moving vehicle at Khushhali Turikhel village near Mirali, 35 kilometres east of Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency, which lies on the border with Afghanistan.
Officials said at least six missiles were fired which hit a militant compound and a car. Resultantly, seven militants were killed. However, it was not immediately clear if there was an important militant killed in the attack. The locals were trying to recover dead bodies buried under the debris. The officials said that almost six US drones were hovering in the air on NWA, and later on, one of them hit the targets.
The fresh drone attack hit NWA days before Pakistan’s spymaster, Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam is going to hold talks in Washington on August 1-3 with his CIA counterpart.
Islamabad has time and again asked US administration to stop US drone attacks as it fuel people’s sentiments against the Americans. People believe that not only the innocent people are being killed in these attacks but also these are considered a blatant violation of the country’s sovereignty.
Agencies add: Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, as they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiments, but US officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up. Local intelligence officials confirmed the attack and casualties.
Ten militants were killed on Monday in a similar attack in Shawal area of North Waziristan. In a drone attack at the start of July, six militants were 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 convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.
On July 3 however, Islamabad agreed to end the blockade after the United States apologised for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in botched air strikes last November.
Islam’s trip on Wednesday marks the first Washington visit in a year by the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and signals a thaw in relations beset by crisis since US troops killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May 2011.
In protest at US drone attacks, local Taliban and 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 bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as a cover.