MIRANSHAH: At least six people were killed and two others were injured on Thursday when an unmanned US drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan.
The strike took place in the New Aadda area, officials said while confirming the strike. The identities of those killed were not immediately known.
An official claimed those targeted were foreigners, possibly from Turkmenistan, but did not divulge further.
Sources from the area said that two loud explosions were heard, after which the vehicle was completely destroyed.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, a resident of the area said that “the vehicle had stopped for some reason before it was destroyed by the drone attack.”
The strike comes two days after a similar attack killed four militants in North Waziristan, marking the resumption of the unacknowledged US drone campaign, paused after a November 26 Nato cross-border attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The last drone strike before Tuesday’s was on November 17.
Resumption of strikes
The resumption of drone strikes against militant targets in Pakistan does not signal an improvement in deeply frayed relations between Washington and Islamabad, US officials and experts said on Wednesday.
Officials insisted there was no formal decision to suspend drone attacks after the November 26 attack, and added that strikes were based on the availability of targeting intelligence and suitable flying conditions.
But one former US official did not discount the possibility the recent lull in drone attacks might have been calculated, at least in part, to “cool tempers” in Pakistan following the November incident.
Officials in Washington said the militants targeted in Wednesday’s air strike were believed to be ‘foreign fighters’ of Arab and possibly Uzbek descent.
US and Pakistani officials also said it was extremely unlikely the United States gave Pakistani authorities advance notice of Wednesday’s drone strike, although Pakistan may have been notified either at the time of, or shortly after, the attack.
The officials added that many US counterterrorism experts inside the government believed drone strikes must continue at a fairly regular pace if the United States is to keep al Qaeda and other Pakistan-based militants off balance and prevent them from rebuilding their strength.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.