US drone strikes kill 17 in Pakistan
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