At least five militants killed in two separate drone strikes in Dargah Mandi village.
At least five militants were killed early on Wednesday in two separate U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan, where Pakistan has this week launched a major military offensive.
Local security officials said six missiles hit three compounds in Dargah Mandi village in North Waziristan, an area considered a stronghold for the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.
“U.S. drones fired six missiles which hit three separate compounds in two villages, at least five militants have been killed,” said a local security official in Miranshah. The identities of those killed in the strikes were yet not clear, the official said.
The attacks took place just minutes apart. Two drones fired four missiles in the first strike, then a third drone fired a further two missiles in the second attack, the official said. Another senior security official confirmed the strike, adding that a vehicle parked in one compound was also hit and the death toll could rise.
Washington reportedly suspended its drone program in December to give Islamabad time to pursue a dialogue process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However the nascent peace process was shattered when the Taliban launched an attack on the airport in Karachi on June 9 that left dozens dead.
The U.S. resumed the program last week, days after the Karachi attack, with two strikes in the same village of Dargah Mandi, killing at least 16 militants. Islamabad condemned those strikes, despite suspicions the two countries coordinated in the aftermath of the Taliban siege, branding them “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” in a foreign office statement.
Leaked documents have shown deep cooperation over drone attacks in the past, but they remain controversial, with critics charging they cause many civilian casualties. Some 2,171 people have been killed in drone attacks since August 2008, according to an AFP tally.