At least 25 suspected militants have been killed in four drone strikes since June 12, according to an official.
A U.S. drone strike targeting a Pakistani Taliban compound on Saturday killed 11 suspected insurgents in North Waziristan, according to officials.
“The drone fired eight missiles on the compound around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday killing 11 members of the Punjabi faction of the Pakistani Taliban,” said a senior security official in the region. The official said the dead included two “important” commanders of the Pakistani Taliban, but he refused to reveal their identities. An official had earlier given a lower death toll of eight militants dead.
The strike took place in the Mada Khel suburb of Datta Khel.
U.S. drone strikes have picked up since the military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in Waziristan after a near six-month hiatus. Since June 12, at least four drone strikes have been reported in the tribal areas. According to an intelligence official in North Waziristan, at least 25 militants have been killed in the four strikes, but estimates vary and some independent analysts claim the toll is nearly 50.
The assault by Pakistan’s military was launched on June 15 after a dramatic attack by militants on Karachi airport, which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban.
More than 400 militants and 25 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military, though the area is off-limits to journalists, making it impossible to verify the number and identity the dead independently.
Pakistan routinely protests against U.S. drone strikes, which have been targeting militants in the tribal areas since 2004, saying they are a violation of sovereignty and counterproductive in the fight against terror. Military officials have also strongly denied suggestions that there has been collusion with the U.S. on drone strikes.