Overriding Islamabad’s objections, the US has turned drone strikes on Pakistan virtually into a blitz, hitting the lawless border belt again on Monday, killing 15 militants.
This was the eighth drone strike on Pakistan’s turbulent northwest since the Nato conference in the US, which failed to break the impasse on reopening of land supply routes to allied forces via Pakistan.
A CIA-drone targetted a compound and a vehicle in Mir Ali, 25 km from Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency, suspected by Americans to be a beehive of activity by the al Qaeda and Haqqani network of the Taliban.
Twelve militants were killed instantly while three others died later in hospital, local tribesmen said on phone from Miranshah. Reports said several persons were injured and that some foreign fighters were among the dead.
Local residents said the strike created panic among people. Tribesmen went to the site and took the injured to a local hospital.The US has stepped up the drone strikes shortly after the summit, as Pakistan did not make any announcement about ending a six-month blockade of supply routes to Afghanistan.
The supply lines were shut after a cross-border Nato air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year.
Pak condemns strikes
Pakistan on Monday strongly condemned a jump in US drone strikes on its territory, using language that could increase tension between strategic allies already in dispute over military supply routes for Nato that Pakistan has closed.
Three drone strikes in as many days on suspected militants have killed 27 people, Pakistani intelligence officials say. The foreign ministry called the attacks “illegal” and said they violated the South Asian country’s sovereignty.
The Pakistan government says the CIA drone campaign fuels anti-American sentiment in the country, and is counterproductive because of the collateral damage — civilian deaths — it causes.
US says such strikes by the remotely piloted aircraft are an effective way of tackling militants and are an important weapon in the war against militancy.