SOUTH WAZIRISTAN: At least 19 people were killed when three separate drone strikes were fired in different areas in South Waziristan on Monday.
The first two strikes were 15 minutes apart. The first strike killed seven militants in the early hours in Shalam Raghzai, 10 kilometres (six miles) northwest of Wana, the district’s main town. A second strike slammed two missiles into a compound in the Wacha Dana area, 12 kilometres northwest of Wana, Pakistani officials said. The third strike came a few hours later and two missiles targeted a vehicle in Dare Nishtar in Shawal killing four people.
Officials said initial reports suggested that some foreign militants may have been killed in the first attack and that Pakistani Taliban were targeted in the second strike, which came just 15 minutes later.
The strikes came after a US drone strike reportedly killed senior al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri on Saturday.
The Pakistani parliament has called for an end to US drone strikes and said there must be no repeat of the operation that killed bin Laden, despite the fact that President Barack Obama has reserved the right to act again.
The drone strikes are hugely unpopular among the general public, who are deeply opposed to the government’s alliance with Washington, and inflame anti-US feeling, which has heightened further after the Bin Laden raid.
But US officials insist that the missile strikes have severely weakened al Qaeda’s leadership and killed high-value targets including the former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
Missile attacks doubled in the area last year, 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 of the attacks 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.