PESHAWAR - At least five suspected militants were killed and four others injured in a US drone attack in Mamoonzai area of the Shawal mountainous region in North Waziristan Agency on Saturday morning.
Official said a US drone fired two missiles on a compound and a vehicle simultaneously. Both targets were badly damaged and five of its occupants were killed on the spot. The injured persons were shifted to local private clinics.
The identity of the killed and injured couldn’t be ascertained but locals said they included foreign militants.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office in a statement protested against the drone attack, saying it was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Foreign Office spokesman said Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone attacks are in contravention of international law.
Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, but US officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up. Washington has long demanded that Pakistan take action against the Haqqanis, whom the United States accused of attacking the US embassy in Kabul last September and acting like the “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence.
Pakistan has in turn demanded that Afghan and US forces do more to stop Pakistani Taliban crossing the Afghan border to relaunch attacks on its forces.
Many in Pakistan accuse the Americans of demanding a Pakistani offensive to mask their own failings in the 10-year war in Afghanistan. Washington regards Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwestern tribal belt as the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
The latest attack, which came after a lull of about three weeks, was in the same region where a drone strike on June 4 killed 15 militants, including senior Al-Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.
There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May, when a NATO summit in Chicago could not strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.
On July 3 however, Islamabad agreed to end the blockade after the United States apologised for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in botched air strikes last November. Islam’s trip to Washington this month signalled a thaw in relations beset by crisis since US troops killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May 2011.
In protest at US drone attacks, local Taliban and Pakistani warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur have banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, putting 240,000 children in the region at risk.
They have condemned the immunisation campaign as a cover for espionage. In May, a Pakistani doctor was jailed for 33 years after helping the CIA find bin Laden using a hepatitis vaccination programme as a cover.