'Drone strike' kills several in Pakistan

At least five alleged fighters killed as missiles hit vehicle in the Datta Khel area in North Waziristan.

    The high number of civilian casualties in drone attacks have caused anger in Pakistan [File:EPA]

    At least five people have been killed after a suspected US drone fired two missiles into a vehicle in Pakistan's North Waziristan, local security officials say.

    Thursday's raid was the third such attack reported in the tribal district near the Afghan border, which Washington has dubbed the global headquarters of al-Qaeda, since US commandos killed the group's leader, Osama bin Laden, in a Pakistani city near Islamabad.

    "A US drone fired two missiles on a militants' vehicle in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan," one Pakistani security official told the news agency AFP. "Five militants were killed."

    Another local official confirmed the strike and the toll, saying: "The target was a pick-up van."

    Intelligence reports from the area said the dead included "foreigners" - a term normally used for Afghan Taliban, Uzbek fighters or al-Qaeda.

    On Tuesday, a similar strike killed four people near Angoor Adda village in the neighbouring district of South Waziristan, and last Friday eight suspected fighters were reported killed by US missiles in North Waziristan.

    North Waziristan, a stronghold of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has been subject to frequent missile attacks.

    Civilian casualties

    Washington does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and the CIA operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the unmanned aircraft in the region.

    The strikes have spread anti-US sentiment in Pakistan, because of the high number of civilian deaths.

    The strikes doubled last year, with more than 100 drone strikes killing more than 670 people, according to a tally by the AFP news agency, and the CIA has said the covert programme severely disrupted al-Qaeda's leadership.

    But some experts say the discovery last week of bin Laden living hundreds of kilometres from the tribal area, in the city of Abbottabad two hours' drive from capital, exposes the limits of drone strikes to hit important targets.

    US officials are now poring over a trove of intelligence obtained in the May 2 helicopter-borne raid on a suburban compound that killed the al-Qaeda leader, including what is claimed to be a handwritten journal containing his "operational ideas".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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