Mon, Jul 02, 2012 - Page 6 News List

US drone attack kills six militants in Pakistan: official

AFP, MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN

A US drone attack on a militant compound in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal area killed six insurgents yesterday, security officials said.

The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles on the compound in Shawal District, 50km southwest of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district, near the Afghan border, they said.

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.

A similar attack in the region on Tuesday killed five militants.

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.

A drone attack on June 4 killed 15 militants in North Waziristan, including senior al-Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Islamabad is understood to have approved the drone strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in the past, but the government has become increasingly vocal in its public opposition as relations with Washington have deteriorated.

Both sides are at loggerheads over reopening NATO supply lines that Pakistan shut on Nov. 26 last year when a US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

An impasse continues as Islamabad insists on a US apology for their deaths and an end to drone strikes.

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has said that under US President Barack Obama there has been an average of one drone strike in Pakistan every four days.

It said most of the 2,292 to 2,863 people reported to have died were low-ranking militants, but that only 126 fighters had been named.

It said it had credible reports of between 385 and 775 civilians being killed, including 164 to 168 children.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay last month called for a UN investigation into US drone strikes in Pakistan, questioning their legality and saying they frequently kill innocent civilians.

The UN human rights chief provided no statistics, but called for an investigation into civilian casualties, which she said were difficult to track.

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