At least 10 suspected militants — including foreign fighters — were killed and two injured in a US predator strike in North Waziristan Agency where Pakistani troops have been hunting down terrorists in a massive military operation since mid-June. Pakistan condemned the drone strike and called for immediate cessation of the CIA-led campaign.
A security official based in the region told The Express Tribune by phone that two remotely-piloted aircraft fired four missiles at a car parked inside a compound of suspected foreign militants. “The compound and the car were destroyed in the attack,” he added.
The official said the compound was located in the Lorha Mandi area of Datta Khel tehsil, 65 kilometres west of Miramshah, the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. At least 10 militants were killed and two injured in the strike, he added.
“There are two Uzbeks among the dead militants identified so far,” another official told AFP. Security officials in the neighbouring town of Bannu and Miramshah confirmed the drone attack and casualties, and said it happened at around 3:30am on Wednesday. Officials said militants immediately shifted the bodies to an undisclosed location for burial.
In Islamabad, the Foreign Office spokesperson condemned the Waziristan strike and said there was no need for the United States to continue with the drone campaign in the tribal regions at a time when the Pakistani military was taking a decisive action against terrorists.
“The government of Pakistan also believes that with the decisive action being taken against terrorist elements in North Waziristan, there is no need for such strikes. We, therefore, urge for a cessation of such strikes,” Tasnim Aslam said in a statement. She reaffirmed that Pakistan condemned the US drone programme and regarded such strikes as violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Wednesday’s strike was the first this month. There has been a considerable decline in the number of predator strikes in the tribal regions since US President Barrack Obama approved new guidelines for the use of lethal drones.
Earlier this week, the UN Human Rights Council in its session in Geneva condemned the use of armed drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Zamir Akram referred to serious concerns by the international community over the use of drones outside the international legal framework and said the use of armed drones must comply with longstanding rules of international law, and the UN Charter.
Pakistani military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan, which was known as a safe haven for Taliban militants and their al Qaeda cohorts, on June 15 after a dramatic attack by terrorists on Karachi airport. The military claimed to have killed over 1,100 suspected terrorists in over three-month campaign.
Security officials claimed on Wednesday that at least 10 militants were killed and as many injured when warplanes pounded their hideouts in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. The early morning raids happened in the remote Koki Khel Ghakhi area of Tirah, they added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2014.