[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Dozens die as US drone hits Pakistan home
At least 35 suspected Taliban fighters killed in missile strike by US drone in North Waziristan.
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2011 17:23

Missiles fired by a suspected US drone in Pakistan's North Waziristan province, near the border with Afghanistan, have reportedly killed at least 35 Taliban fighters, officials have said.

The drone fired two missiles in quick succession at a residential compound on Thursday, where a group of some three dozen alleged Taliban fighters were meeting, Pakistani intelligence officials told the Associated Press.

The strikes occurred three minutes apart and took place in the Datta Khel area of the North Waziristan tribal region - the main sanctuary for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters along the Afghan border.

"Militants were using this house as a training centre and used to meet here," a security official in Peshawar told the AFP news agency.

He said 10 other fighters were critically injured.

US drones have frequently targeted Datta Khel, known as a stronghold of the Taliban commander and al-Qaeda-linked warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who has focused his efforts on fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan.

General Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's army chief, strongly condemned the strikes, the military said.

"Chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, strongly condemns the Predator [drone] strike carried out today in North Waziristan resulting into loss of innocent lives," the military said in a statement.

"It is highly regrettable that a jirga [council] of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life," the statement said.

Increased strikes

Missile attacks - believed to be carried out by unmanned drone aircraft launched either from Afghanistan or from inside Pakistan - have doubled in the area last year.

There were more than 100 drone strikes, killing over 670 people in 2010, compared with 45 strikes that killed 420 in 2009, according to an AFP tally.

There have been around 20 attacks so far this year. Most of the recent strikes have been in North Waziristan.

Washington does not acknowledge firing the missiles and reporters are barred from visiting the area, making it difficult to verify who is being killed.

Pakistani leaders formally protest the strikes, but its intelligence agencies are widely believed to co-operate in some of them.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.