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Suspected US drone strikes kill at least 29

world Updated: Feb 03, 2010 10:55 IST
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Multiple missile strikes carried out by suspected US pilot less drone aircraft killed at least 29 people in Pakistan's restive tribal region Tuesday, a Pakistani intelligence official said.

Several more people were injured in the air attacks that took place in at least four villages of North Waziristan district, a known sanctuary of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants conducting cross-border raids on US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.

"At least eight drones took part in the attack, and they have fired some 18 missiles at three training camps of Taliban, their two vehicles and some bunkers," said a local intelligence official that spoke on condition of anonymity.

Taliban militants have fired at the US aircraft from some of these bunkers. The militants shot down one drone on January 24.

"According to the initial reports we have received from various areas, at least 29 people have been killed while around a dozen more are injured," said the official about Tuesday's attack, adding that the death toll might rise.

People are buried under the debris of the demolished house, but no one dares to carry out rescue work since the drones are still flying in the area, the official said over phone. "Almost all those killed are Taliban (fighters)."

The US has intensified its campaign to target militant hideouts with drone strikes in Pakistan's rugged tribal region since an Al-Qaeda double agent killed five CIA officials and two private security contractors in a suicide bombing in the Afghan province of Khost on December 30.

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was reported to have been killed in a similar missile strike in early January, but days later he denied the reports in two audio messages released to local reporters.

Pakistan publicly opposes the air raids, saying they violate the country's territorial sovereignty and stoke anti-American sentiments among the local population.