Peshawar, Pakistan (AFP) March 13, 2011
A US drone strike targeting a rebel vehicle and a compound on Sunday killed six militants and wounded five others in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.
The unmanned aircraft fired missiles in mountainous Spalga village, 15 kilometres (nine miles) northeast of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district and a stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked rebels.
"US drones fired six missiles targeting a militant vehicle and a nearby rebel compound owned by a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, Rahimullah, killing six militants," a senior security official in Miranshah told AFP.
Five militants were also wounded in the attack, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The identities of those killed and injured were not immediately known.
Another security official also confirmed the strike and casualties but said it was not clear how many drones had taken part in the attack.
He added that several drones were still flying in the area.
Earlier in the day, a US missile strike in the lawless tribal region of South Waziristan had missed its target -- a militant vehicle -- allowing at least four militants to flee.
Missile attacks doubled in the tribal areas last year as the covert campaign was stepped up, with more than 100 drone strikes killing over 670 people in 2010 compared with 45 strikes that killed 420 in 2009, according to an AFP tally.
Most have been concentrated in North Waziristan, the most notorious Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda bastion in Pakistan, where the United States wants the Pakistan military to launch a ground offensive as soon as possible.
But despite pressure from Washington, Pakistan has stalled on launching such an offensive in North Waziristan, saying its troops are already overstretched.
The US ambassador to Islamabad, Cameron Munter, told reporters in December that US officials would like to see Pakistan launch an offensive there "tomorrow" but acknowledged that troops were stretched too thin to act immediately.
The United States does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy them in the region.
The US strikes are deeply unpopular among the Pakistani public, who also see military action on Pakistani soil as a breach of national sovereignty.
But Islamabad tacitly cooperates with the bombing campaign, which US officials say has severely weakened Al-Qaeda's leadership and killed high-value targets including the former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
US officials say Pakistan-based militants are active in escalating a nine-year insurgency in Afghanistan, putting up a deadly fight against 140,000 US-led NATO troops there and seeking to bring down the Western-backed government in Kabul.
earlier related report
The missile strike took place in Azam Warsak town, 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Wana, the main town of the South Waziristan tribal district, where the Pakistani military launched an operation against Islamist militants in 2009.
"US drones first fired two missiles targeting a militant vehicle but they failed to hit, allowing rebels, who were said to be over four in number, to run away," a senior security official told AFP.
He said that two more missiles fired from a drone hit the vehicle but failed to destroy it.
Another security official in the area confirmed the strike, adding that at least four of the unmanned aircraft had been flying in the area on Sunday morning.
He said that identity of militants on board the vehicle was unknown.
The United States does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy them in the region.
The covert US strikes cause anti-American hostility among the Pakistani public, who see foreign military action on Pakistani soil as a violation of national sovereignty.
Missile attacks doubled in the tribal areas last year as the campaign was stepped up, with more than 100 drone strikes killing over 670 people in 2010 compared with 45 strikes that killed 420 in 2009, according to an AFP tally.
Pakistan tacitly cooperates with the bombing campaign, which US officials say has severely weakened Al-Qaeda's leadership and killed a number of high-value targets, including the former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
The United States has been increasing pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist havens along the Afghan border, a hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants fighting across the border in Afghanistan.
Pakistani commanders have not ruled out an offensive in North Waziristan, but argue that gains in South Waziristan and the northwestern district of Swat need to be consolidated to prevent their troops from being stretched too thin.
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US drone strike kills six militants in Pakistan: officials
Miranshah, Pakistan (AFP) March 11, 2011
At least six militants were killed in two US drone attacks in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Friday, security officials said. The first drone fired two missiles targeting a suspected militant vehicle in Khaisor town, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan region, they said. The attack left three militants ... read more
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