Seven militants were killed in a US drone strike on Monday destroyed a vehicle in which they were travelling in North Waziristan.
The attack took place near Mir Ali, some 30 kilometres east of Miramshah, the main town of the tribal area where US officials want Pakistan to launch an offensive against networks fighting in Afghanistan.
“A US drone fired two missiles which hit a vehicle. At least seven militants have been killed,” one security official in Peshawar said. Another intelligence official in Miramshah said two drones fired four missiles, hitting a van and killing at least seven militants.
“I do not know whether there was a high-value target. We received reports that those killed in the van were all foreigners,” he said.
Monday’s attack was the eighth to be reported in the country’s tribal areas near the Afghan border since US commandos killed former al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a secret raid in Abbottabad on May 2.
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 episode.
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 the news agency’s tally.
The US does not confirm the drone attacks, but its military and the CIA in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy them in the region.
Meanwhile, an explosion damaged a bridge on the main highway that links Islamabad to Peshawar, but caused no casualties.
Traffic remained suspended between the two cities after the explosion near the northwestern town of Rashkai, motorway police spokesman Javed Chaudhry said.
“There were no casualties. The explosion has damaged the rear part of the bridge,” he told the news agency, adding that one car was partially damaged.
“The north side of the motorway has been damaged. We are collecting further information,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2011.