US missiles killed four militants in a Taliban stronghold of the tribal belt on Wednesday, officials said, amid increasing strains with the West over a six-month blockade on Nato supplies into Afghanistan.
Two missiles were fired at a house in Miramshah bazaar a few hours after midnight. “It could not be confirmed whether the militants were foreigners or locals,” said a security official.
A tribesman, Saeed Jan, told The Express Tribune that a drone targeted a house in Saikal Kalay near Zafar Town around midnight in which four people were killed and several injured.
“After the enormous blasts, militants surrounded the area and shifted all the bodies and injured to an undisclosed location,” he said.
It was the first drone strike after the Chicago conference held by Nato on Afghanistan.
“The drone fired two missiles on a house in the Tabai area near Miramshah,” one of the security officials told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
The area is a stronghold of the Haqqani network – Afghan insurgents blamed for a series of spectacular attacks on Western targets in Kabul.
A local administration official and another intelligence official confirmed Wednesday’s drone strike and casualties.
According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2009, the year Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011. The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.