At least six suspected militants killed in third U.S. airstrike since a TTP-backed attack on Karachi’s international airport.
A U.S. drone strike on Thursday killed six suspected militants in North Waziristan, the tribal district where Pakistan has launched a major military offensive against local and foreign fighters.
Local security officials said two U.S. drones fired four missiles into a compound in Doga Macha Madda Khel, a village close to Datta Khel town. The village lies 35 kilometers west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.
Pakistan’s armed forces have been waging a massive assault on the tribal area in recent weeks to eradicate hideouts militants have used to launch attacks across the restive country. The Army says it is now in control of 80 percent of Miranshah, which officers said had become a virtual supermarket for jihadist fighters wanting to equip themselves with guns and explosives.
A local security official said that Thursday’s drone strike had killed four foreign fighters and two local cadres who had fled Miranshah before the launch of the offensive. “The compound and a vehicle parked inside were completely destroyed and killed at least six militants,” said the official.
Doga Macha Madda lies in difficult, mountainous terrain, which the official said the militants had hoped to use as cover. Another security official in Peshawar confirmed the attack and the casualties.
It is the third round of drone strikes to hit northwest Pakistan since the U.S. resumed the campaign following a six-month hiatus. Washington reportedly suspended its drone program in December to give Islamabad time to pursue a dialogue process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to end a seven-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
But a spectacular, bloody attack on Karachi airport on June 9 that left dozens dead sank the peace efforts and prompted the army offensive. U.S. drone strikes resumed a few days after the Karachi attack, though Pakistani officials insist they have not given their approval.