PESHAWAR: Intelligence officials say a suspected US drone strike has killed five militants in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan.
There have been at least 14 suspected US missile strikes this month. More than 1,040 people have been killed in over 100 drone strikesin Pakistan since August 2008, including a number of senior militants.
This month alone, a surge in US missile strikes has killed 76 militants in the tribal belt on the Afghan border.
Last week, 11 militants were killed in an attack by the unmanned bombers on the village of Bushnarai in Shawal district, a known stronghold of Taliban warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur that is populated by Arab fighters.
Another four were killed in Qutabkhel village south of Miranshah when US drones fired missiles on militant vehicles, officials said. Local sources told The Express Tribune that Commander Saifullah, a close relative of Haqqani was among those killed in Tuesday’s attack.
US forces have been waging a drone war against Taliban and al Qaeda-linked commanders in the northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountains outside direct government control.
Officials in Washington say the drone strikes are a vital tool needed to protect foreign troops in Afghanistan and have killed a number of high-value targets including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
The US military does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the region.
However, the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. Al Qaeda announced in June that its number three leader and Osama bin Laden’s one-time treasurer Mustafa Abu al-Yazid had been killed in what security officials said appeared to be a drone strike in North Waziristan.
Under US pressure to crack down on militant havens along the Afghan border, Pakistan has in the past year significantly increased operations against militants in the area. More than 3,700 people have been killed in the past three years in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions across Pakistan, many of them carried out by the Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked militants.
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