A US drone strike in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt on Friday[Sept. 23, 2011] killed at least six militants including four foreigners and destroyed a compound, security officials said. Two missiles fired by the unmanned aircraft hit a house in the village of Khushali Turikhel, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in the lawless North Waziristan tribal district, security officials told AFP. “The US drone fired two missiles which hit a house. Two locals and four militants of central Asian origin have been killed,” a Pakistani security official said. The official based in Peshawar said militants were using the house as a compound, which was completely destroyed. Two intelligence officials based in Miranshah confirmed the attack and the number of casualties, adding that three militants whose identities were not yet clear were wounded in the strike. Although the United States does not publicly confirm drone attacks, its military and the CIA in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the unmanned Predator aircraft in the region.
North Waziristan is the headquarters of the Haqqani leadership and the main militant bastion in the semi-autonomous tribal belt. The Haqqani network is considered the deadliest enemy of US troops in eastern Afghanistan. It was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani and is run by his son, Sirajuddin, both designated “global terrorists” by Washington. The United States blames it over some of the most spectacular attacks in Afghanistan, such as last week’s 19-hour siege in Kabul and the 2009 killing of seven CIA agents, and accuses Pakistani spies of having ties to the group. In an unprecedented condemnation of Pakistan the US military’s top officer Admiral Mike Mullen said this week that the country’s main intelligence agency the ISI was actively supporting Haqqani network militants. Pakistan has reacted angrily to the US allegations, saying they are “not acceptable” and warning that Washington stands to lose a vital ally.
Drone attacks are unpopular among many Pakistanis, who oppose the alliance with Washington and who are sensitive to perceived violations of sovereignty. Around two dozen drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since elite US forces killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a suburban home near Pakistan’s main military academy in Abbottabad, close to the capital, on May 2. Pakistani-US relations sank to a new nadir after the unilateral American raid that killed bin Laden but in recent months had appeared to recover slightly. Washington’s pressure on Islamabad to launch a decisive military campaign in North Waziristan, as Pakistan has conducted elsewhere in the tribal belt, has so far fallen on deaf ears.
US drone kills six militants in Pakistan: officials, Agence France Presse, Sept. 24, 2011