US drone strikes kill 17 in Pak­istan

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

PESHAWAR: Pak­istani i ntel­li­gence of­fi­cials say a third sus­pected US mis­sile strike has hit a tribal area near t he Afghan border, killing nine mil­i­tants and bring­ing the to­tal toll to 17 dead in the strikes.

The two ear­lier strikes on Tues­day in North Waziris­tan tribal re­gion killed eight peo­ple. The of­fi­cials say at least two of the dead killed in the sec­ond strike were re­triev­ing bod­ies from the site of the first hit.

The of­fi­cials say the third strike hit some ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing al­leged mil­i­tants who may be­long to the Haqqani net­work, one of sev­eral mil­i­tant groups in North Waziris­tan.

The two in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they are not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

Around 115 such mis­sile strikes have been launched this year - more than dou­bling last year's to­tal. Nearly all have l anded in North Waziris­tan, a re­gion that hosts sev­eral mil­i­tant groups bat­tling US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, i nclud­ing t he feared Haqqani net­work.

The first strike Tues­day hit a house in the Ghu­lam Khan area of North Waziris­tan, killing six, two Pak­istani in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they are not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

The of­fi­cials did not know the iden­ti­ties of those killed but said they were mil­i­tants.

About three hours later, as peo­ple went to the site to pick up the bod­ies, more mis­siles hit the same spot. The in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said civil­ians may have been among those killed in the sec­ond strike.

On Mon­day, US mis­siles struck two ve­hi­cles in an­other part of North Waziris­tan, killing at least 18 al­leged mil­i­tants in two ve­hi­cles, in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said.

Pak­istan of­fi­cially protests the strikes, say­ing they vi­o­late its sovereignty and anger tribes­men whose sup­port it needs to fend off ex­trem­ists. But Is­lam­abad is widely be­lieved to se­cretly sup­port the strikes and pro­vide in­tel­li­gence for at least some of them.

U.S. of­fi­cials rarely dis­cuss the covert, CIA-run mis­sile pro­gram. Pri­vately, how­ever, they say it is a cru­cial tool and has killed sev­eral top mil­i­tant lead­ers. They also say t he drone-fired strikes are very ac­cu­rate and usu­ally kill mil­i­tants.

In­for­ma­tion from Pak­istan's tribal belt is very hard to ver­ify in­de­pen­dently. Ac­cess to the area is legally re­stricted, and on­go­ing con­flict there makes it dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory.

Also Tues­day, a l ow­in­ten­sity bomb ex­ploded near a cafe­te­ria at t he Karachi Uni­ver­sity i n t he south­ern port city of Karachi, woundi ng at l east t wo stu­dents, po­lice said. Po­lice of­fi­cial Naeem Khan said the ex­plo­sive was in par­cel and that of­fi­cials were try­ing to de­ter­mine who planted it. - PB News

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