Twin suspected US missile strikes yesterday on a tribal area in northwest Pakistan known as a hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity killed at least eight militants, officials said.
The strikes were the latest on extremists in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan — all said to have been launched by unmanned CIA aircraft — that have raised tensions between Washington and Islamabad.
Two missiles “fired by US drones” struck the villages of Karikot and Shin Warsak in troubled South Waziristan, a senior security official said on condition of anonymity.
“Two vehicles fitted with guns were destroyed,” the official said, adding that the eight people killed were all inside the cars, which were camouflaged with mud and grass.
It was not immediately clear if any senior Taliban or al-Qaeda operatives were killed in the strikes, which took place just minutes apart, he said.
Local intelligence sources said they believed the militants killed were members of local Pakistani Taliban groups.
The strikes caused huge fires in both villages, sending panicked residents running into the streets, the security official said, adding that one house was damaged.
Hundreds of Taliban fighters later gathered in the two villages — both outside Wana, the main town in South Waziristan — to say funeral prayers for those killed, local residents said.
The suspected US strikes have continued despite a warning by Taliban militants based in tribal territory last month that any more would lead to reprisal attacks across Pakistan.
A missile attack last month by a US jet killed Rashid Rauf, the alleged mastermind of a 2006 trans-Atlantic airplane bombing plot, as well as an Egyptian al-Qaeda operative, security officials have said.
Pakistan has repeatedly protested to the US that the strikes violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment.
Saleh Shah, a Pakistani senator from the tribal areas, strongly condemned yesterday’s attacks, saying they were “counterproductive” and would not help restore peace and order in the region.