21 militants killed in US drone attack in North Waziristan
MIRANSHAH: At least 21 militants were killed in a US drone strike in restive North Waziristan's Miranshah town, local officials said.
According to reports, an unmanned US Predator drone fired six missiles at a vehicle at Mir Ali village, situated about 25 kilometres from Miranshah. The identities of the dead were not immediately clear, but officials believed that most of them were Pakistani, rather than Afghan or Arab fighters. The Mir Ali area is believed to be a Pakistani Taliban stronghold.
"At least 21 militants were killed in a US missile strike, which targeted a vehicle and a compound," a senior Pakistani security official said.
"Four missiles hit the vehicle and two struck the compound," he added. Security officials had initially put the death toll at six. Washington says eliminating the militant threat in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt is vital to winning the nine-year war against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan and defeating Al-Qaeda. The United States does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the aircraft in the region. The covert campaign has doubled missile attacks in the tribal area this year where around 100 drone strikes have killed more than 640 people since January 1, compared to 45 killing 420 people in 2009. Pakistan tacitly cooperates with the bombing campaign, which US officials say has severely weakened Al-Qaeda's leadership, but has stalled on launching an offensive in North Waziristan, saying its troops are too overstretched. The United Nations said Monday it had suspended food handouts in Bajaur, which like North Waziristan is one of seven districts in the tribal belt, after 43 people were killed in Pakistan's first female suicide bombing.
The decision affects nearly 300,000 people who depend on general rations from the World Food Programme (WFP) after being affected by years of fighting between Pakistani soldiers and homegrown Taliban militants. The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack in part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, which Washington considers Al-Qaeda's chief global nexus and is subject to a covert American drone campaign. -PB News
MUSCAT: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani inspecting the guard of honour on arrival at Muscat airport. Sultan Assad bin Tariq Al-Said, Special Representative of Sultan Qaboos also accompanied. -App