MIRANSHAH: A second US missile strike has killed at least four people in Miranshah today.
“A US drone fired two missiles on a vehicle carrying militants outside Miranshah,” a senior security official told AFP.
“At least four militants were killed in the attack,” the official said. The strike took place in Qutabkhel village, a southern suburb of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district.
Another security official in Peshawar and a local intelligence official confirmed the attack and death toll.
Earlier in the day, 10 people were killed and three injured in a drone strike in Shawal district of North Waziristan, with reports suggesting that casualty figures may rise.
Officials said four missiles hit a militant compound in Bushnarai village, where al Qaeda-linked and Taliban fighters have carved out strongholds. Shawal district is more than 300 kilometres (190 miles) from Islamabad.
“A US drone fired four missiles targeting a militant compound at 7:30 am (0230 GMT), killing seven militants,” a senior Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Another official confirmed the strike, but put the death toll at nine. The senior security official warned that the death toll may rise.
Locals have blocked the area, denying anyone’s access to it.
There have been more than 200 strikes, which have killed over 900 people, mostly civilians, in the tribal areas since 2008. Today’s was the tenth such strike in 11 days, security officials said.
With the country struggling to cope with devastating floods that have hit 21 million people in the country’s worst humanitarian disaster, militant violence has picked up in recent weeks with a fresh series of major bombings.
US missiles have killed 60 militants in North Waziristan since September 3. The Taliban last week threatened Pakistani security forces with further suicide attacks to avenge US strikes, which have become a key tactic in the US-led fight to reverse a Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.
A militant bombing campaign has killed more than 3,700 people and fanned instability across nuclear-armed Pakistan since July 2007.
Under US pressure to crack down on militant havens along the Afghan border, Pakistan has in the past year stepped up military operations against largely homegrown militants in the area.
Officials in Washington say the drone strikes have killed a number of high-value targets including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud and help protect foreign troops in Afghanistan from attacks plotted across the border.
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.
Over 1,070 people have been killed in more than 125 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, including a number of senior militants. However, the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.
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.