At least eight militants, four of them Uzbek fighters, were killed in twin drone strikes early Thursday in the Esokhel area of Mir Ali, a sub-division of the North Waziristan Agency, a security official said.
According to the official, two missiles struck a house and a mosque near the Esokhel graveyard around 5:30 am. An eyewitness told The Express Tribune that the mud house sanctuary of the militants collapsed following the drone attack.
Five people were killed in the house, while the other three died near a mosque close by,” said a local, on the condition of anonymity.
The drone strike also left the mosque partially damaged.
Soon after the strike, local militants surrounded the house and shifted the bodies to an undisclosed location, said a witness.
Four militants were killed in a similar drone strike in Miramshah, headquarters of the North Waziristan Agency a day earlier.
Thursday’s strike brought the death toll from such strikes to 12 in two days, officials told AFP.
A neighbour, Mohammad Rafiq, told AFP the attack triggered a fire at the compound of the house where militants were exercising in the courtyard.
Foreign office condemns strike
Though the federal government issued a strong condemnation of the strikes, terming these a “total violation” of its territory, it made it clear that Islamabad wanted to solve all issues through dialogue.
Foreign Office spokesperson Moazzam Khan, in his regular weekly briefing, said Islamabad had a clear policy on the drone attacks by the US which were “illegal, unacceptable and in violation of international law.”
When asked why Pakistan did not take the issue to the UN if these attacks were in breach of international law, he said, at the moment “we want to resolve the issue bilaterally”, but of course all options are open.
He said the two countries were discussing all the issues “with the spirit and view” to find their mutually acceptable solution.
“It is an important relationship and there is a mutual desire to normalise things as soon as possible.”
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.
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