A US drone attack on Sunday killed at least seven militants in North Waziristan, officials said, days before the country’s intelligence chief visits Washington with the contentious raids likely to be discussed.
In Sunday’s attack, the second in the month of Ramazan, missiles struck a compound in Khushhali Turikhel village of North Waziristan Agency.
“US drones fired six missiles into a militant compound. At least seven militants were killed,” a security official told AFP.
“It is not immediately clear if there was an important militant killed in the attack.”
According to another security official, six Uzbek militants were killed in the drone strike. The official said the militants had gone to bathe in a water spring, locally known as a Dinga, when they came under the drone attack.
The toll might rise as militants search for colleagues buried under the rubble of the compound, the official said, adding that missiles also hit and destroyed two militant vehicles.
Local intelligence officials confirmed the attack and casualties.
Khushhali Turikhel lies around 35 kilometres east of Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan which is considered a stronghold of militants.
Drone strikes are likely to be a major issue when ISI chief Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam, holds talks in Washington on August 1-3 with his CIA counterpart.
Islam’s trip on Wednesday marks the first Washington visit in a year by the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and signals a thaw in relations beset by crisis since US troops killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May 2011.
In protest at US drone attacks, local Taliban and warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur have banned polio vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, putting 240,000 children in the region at risk.
They have condemned the immunisation campaign as a cover for espionage. In May, Pakistani doctor Dr Shakil Afridi was jailed for 33 years after helping the CIA find bin Laden using a polio vaccination programme as a cover.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.