Sun, Oct 03, 2010 - Page 4 News List

US drone strike kills six militants in Waziristan

PIECEMEAL PROGRESS:Although Pakistan has stepped up military operations in the area, army commanders are extremely wary of stretching their forces too thinly

AFP, MIRANSHAH, Pakistan

A US drone strike killed six militants yesterday in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border, local security officials said.

Four missiles hit a house used by militants in Dashgah village near Datta Khel town, some 45km west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, the officials said.

“Two US drones fired four missiles and destroyed the house. Six militants were killed in this attack,” a Pakistani security official based in Peshawar said on condition of anonymity.

Two intelligence officials in Miranshah also confirmed the attack and the death toll.

“All of them were militants attached to the Haqqani group,” one intelligence official said.

The second intelligence official said that initial reports suggested the dead were Uzbek militants from Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have reported that at least 21 US drone attacks killed around 120 people last month, the highest monthly tally of attacks.

The overwhelming majority of the attacks have been carried out in North Waziristan, considered a bastion of al-Qaeda-linked militants and Taliban commanders opposed to the US-led war in Afghanistan.

Most of the strikes have targeted the Haqqani network, one of the strongest US foes in Afghanistan whose leadership is based in North Waziristan.

Washington has classified Pakistan’s tribal belt on the Afghan border as a global headquarters of al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

A covert US drone war in Pakistan has killed around 1,140 people in about 140 strikes since August 2008, including a number of senior militants, but the attacks invariably fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.

Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens, Pakistan has stepped up military operations against largely homegrown militants in the area.

However, commanders have so far avoided launching a major offensive in North Waziristan, arguing that gains elsewhere need to be first consolidated to prevent their troops from being stretched too thin.

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