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US drone strike kills eight militants in Pakistan: officials

International Desk |
Update: 2010-09-04 17:07:44
US drone strike kills eight militants in Pakistan: officials

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan:  A US drone strike on Saturday killed eight militants including three foreign fighters in Pakistan`s northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border, security officials said.

The strike targeted a militant compound in Datta Khel village in North Waziristan district, a known hub for Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants.

"A US drone fired missiles on a house used by militants as a compound. Eight militants have been killed in the attack and 12 others were wounded," a security official in Peshawar told AFP by telephone.

Two intelligence officials in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan district, also confirmed the attack and the toll. One of them said that a double-cabin pickup truck was also destroyed by a missile fired from a drone.

"Five local and three foreign militants were killed and 12 others were wounded," the local intelligence official said. Pakistani officials refer to Al-Qaeda-linked Arab and Central Asian fighters as foreigners.

Datta Khel, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Miranshah, has frequently been the target of drone attacks, including one late Friday which killed four foreign militants when it targeted a car, according to security officials.

An earlier strike on Friday killed six militants when it hit a compound on the outskirts of Miranshah. Four militants were reported killed in another strike in North Waziristan on August 28, after a strike on August 24 killed 12 people.

The area is also famous as the stronghold of the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, which has staged attacks on US and NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan.

US forces have been waging a drone war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked commanders in Pakistan`s northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountains outside direct government control.

Washington has branded the rugged tribal area on the Afghan border -- part of which was been hit by Pakistan`s catastrophic flooding -- a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

The US military does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the region.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in 120 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, including a number of senior militants. However, the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.

The United States has been increasing pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist havens along the border.

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 becoming overstretched.

Waziristan came under renewed scrutiny when Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American charged over an attempted bombing in New York on May 1, allegedly told US interrogators he went to the region for terrorist training.

Al-Qaeda announced in June that its number three leader and Osama bin Laden`s one-time treasurer Mustafa Abu al-Yazid had been killed in what security officials said appeared to be a drone strike in North Waziristan.

BDST: 1206 HRS, September 5, 2010

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