|The Pakistani government is believed to quietly assent to drone strikes despite their huge unpopularity [AFP]|
A suspected US drone strike on a compound in northwest Pakistan has killed at least nine people, Pakistani intelligence officials have said.
The attack on Thursday, in which four missiles were fired at a compound in the North Waziristan district on the Afghan border, is the third such strike in as many days.
In the nearby Orakzai agency, Pakistani security forces attacked two separate bases for anti-government fighters, killing at least 30 suspected fighters, a Pakistani army official told Al Jazeera. Two security personnel were wounded.
The Pakistani intelligence officials said unmanned US aircraft fired four missiles into a building in the Razmak area of North Waziristan, 60km south of the region’s main town, Miranshah.
The Taliban and other armed groups use the rugged tribal lands on the border as their base.
North Waziristan is the most notorious of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts and has been a major focus of US pressure on the Islamabad government to take sterner action against Afghan fighters.
Washington refuses to discuss drone strikes publicly, but the programme has dramatically increased as the Obama administration looks to withdraw all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Thursday’s strike was the 64th reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt so far this year, according to an AFP tally.
The Pakistani government is understood to assent to the programme despite popular opposition at home, where anti-Americanism is frequently exploited by nationalist politicians and the conservative religious right.
Pakistan-US ties deteriorated sharply this year over a unilateral US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, in May and over accusations that Pakistani intelligence was involved in a September siege of the US embassy in Kabul.
At talks in Islamabad last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Pakistan to take action within “days and weeks” on dismantling havens for Afghan fighters and encouraging the Taliban into peace talks.
Thursday’s strike came one day after US missiles allegedly destroyed a Pakistani Taliban base in South Waziristan, killing up to 18 fighters, including possible members of al-Qaeda, in the deadliest such reported strike in three months.
Also on Wednesday, three suicide bombers blew themselves up in their car on the sea front in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, killing two policemen, when they were intercepted.