US drone kills seven in Pakistan
Published Sunday, July 29, 2012
A US drone attack Sunday killed at least seven Pakistanis, officials said, days before the country's intelligence chief visits Washington where the contentious raids are likely to be discussed.
Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment.
The country's parliament has passed a bill demanding they cease, but the US continues to sanction the attacks.
Drone strikes are likely to be a major issue when Pakistan's spymaster, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam, holds talks in Washington on August 1-3 with his CIA counterpart.
In Sunday's attack, the second during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, missiles struck a compound in Khushhali Turikhel village in the troubled North Waziristan tribal district, which lies on the border with Afghanistan.
"US drones fired six missiles into a militant compound. At least seven militants were killed," a security official told AFP.
"It is not immediately clear if there was an important militant killed in the attack."
No evidence was provided that those killed were militants rather than civilians.
The toll might rise as rebels search for colleagues buried under the rubble of the compound, the official said, adding that missiles also hit and destroyed two militant vehicles.
Local intelligence officials confirmed the attack and casualties.
Khushhali Turikhel lies around 35 kilometers east of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan which is considered a stronghold of Islamist militants.
Ten Pakistanis were killed on Monday in a similar attack in Shawal area of North Waziristan. In a drone attack at the start of July, six militants were killed and an attack 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 apologized for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in air strikes last November.
Islam's trip on Wednesday marks the first Washington visit in a year by the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and signals a thaw in relations beset by crisis since US troops killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May 2011.