Seven foreign militants were killed as the US carried out the first drone strike in Pakistan's restive tribal belt since an American official was arrested last month for gunning down two men in Lahore, officials said today.
Unmanned spy planes targeted a militant compound in the volatile South Waziristan tribal region of northwest Pakistan early this morning.
The drones fired four missiles at the compound in Kara Panga village near Wana, the headquarters of the region. All those killed in the drone strike were believed to be foreign fighters, officials said.
The attack was the first one after US official Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore on January 27 for shooting and killing two men who he said were trying to rob him.
A third Pakistani died when he was hit by a US consulate vehicle rushing to help Davis. The last drone strike before Davis' arrest was carried out on January 23.
Reports said the US had halted attacks with spy planes so that anti-American sentiments would not increase in Pakistan in the wake of Davis' arrest. Analysts believed the development was also linked to US attempts to secure the release of Davis.
The CIA had significantly stepped up the missile strikes in mid-2010 after Western intelligence agencies uncovered a plot by militants based in Pakistan’s tribal belt to attack European cities. The arrest of Davis triggered a diplomatic row between Pakistan and the US, which has insisted that the American should be released on grounds of diplomatic immunity.