At least 10 people have been killed in an apparent US drone attack in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region.
Pakistani security officials said the missile strikes on Wednesday targeted a compound believed to belong to anti-government fighters in the northwest region near the Afghan border.
Two missiles hit the compound in Tappi, about 10km southeast of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.
“The attack triggered fire in the compound and 10 militants were killed,” one official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Among the dead were foreign fighters from Central Asia, another security official said, without elaborating.
‘Focused’ US effort
US President Barack Obama confirmed last month for the first time that US unmanned drones have targeted Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters on Pakistani soil, a programme that has escalated under his administration.
Obama said the strikes were a “targeted focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists”.
US officials say Pakistan’s tribal belt provides sanctuary to Taliban fighters waging war in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda groups plotting attacks on the West, Pakistani Taliban fighters who routinely bomb Pakistan, and other foreign fighters.
North Waziristan is the most notorious of all 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 fighters crossing between Afghan and Pakistani territory.
However, the controversial drone programme run by the CIA has often been met with protests in Pakistan amid concerns of civilian casualties. The Pakistani government publicly protests the operations, but is believed to support them.
The New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington, says drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in the past eight years.
According to the AFP news agency, the number of missiles that struck the tribal region went down from 101 in 2010 to 64 in 2011.