US missile raid ‘kills seven’ militants in Pakistan

February 15, 2010 03:40

Sunday, February 14, 2010 via

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — Missiles from a US drone aircraft killed seven Islamist militants at a training compound in Pakistan’s lawless northwestern tribal belt on Sunday, officials said.

Two missiles slammed into a building near the main town in North Waziristan, a tribal region rife with Taliban, Al-Qaeda-linked fighters and militants from the Haqqani network, which is known for its attacks in Afghanistan.

Washington is pressuring Islamabad to dismantle militant border sanctuaries, and US drone missile strikes in the region have soared since US President Barack Obama put Pakistan at the heart of his fight against Al-Qaeda.

“Seven militants were killed and four wounded in the drone attack,” said a security official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the US strikes, which fuel anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

“We have sent our team to assess the situation and get details. It’s a remote area and the communications system is bad.”

Another security official confirmed the casualties and said the dead included “four foreigners, possibly Uzbeks.” Pakistani officials usually use the term “foreigners” to refer to Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

A local government official said the targeted compound about 25 kilometres (15 miles) east of North Waziristan’s main town of Miranshah was used for training insurgents, while a car was also destroyed in the bombing raid.

A barrage of US drone strikes hit Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt in January, most concentrated around Miranshah.

On February 2, a swarm of US drones fired a large volley of missiles at an extremist stronghold in North Waziristan, killing at least 16 militants, but there had been a lull in such raids since then.

The Pakistan government publicly condemns the strikes saying they violate the nation’s sovereignty. However, analysts say Islamabad gives tacit approval to its US ally for the raids.

More than 780 people have been killed in the US strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, and American officials say they are a vital tool in the battle against militants and have killed a number of high-profile targets.

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has been a prime target of the drone attacks and US and Pakistani officials increasingly believe he was killed in a January strike in the northwest, although the Taliban insist he is alive.

Mehsud assumed leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), blamed for the deaths of thousands of people in Pakistan, after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a US drone strike in August last year.

Washington is pressing Islamabad to tackle militants in the northwest who use Pakistan soil to launch attacks in Afghanistan, where about 113,000 troops under US and NATO command are battling a Taliban-led insurgency.

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