US missile strikes kill 15 in Pakistan

January 6th, 2010 - 11:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Jan 6 (DPA) At least 15 people were killed and several more injured in two suspected attacks by US drones in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal district Wednesday, a security official said.
Separately, a bomb ripped through an army barracks in the Pakistan-controlled part of the disputed Kashmir region, killing at least three soldiers.

A US pilotless aircraft fired two missiles at a mud compound in the Datta Khel area near Afghan border, said a local intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“According to the reports we have received, at least eight people were killed in the first attack,” added the official.

Around an hour later, a second drone missile struck when the locals were retrieving bodies from the rubble of the first attack, killing seven people.

The official said the identity of those killed was not immediately known.

North Waziristan, one of seven districts in Pakistan’s tribal region, is a known sanctuary for Taliban militants and Al Qaeda operatives launching attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan.

The United States has intensified its drone strikes in the mountainous territory in recent months, apparently as part of its new strategy to tackle the Afghan insurgency.

Pakistan publicly opposes such raids, saying they violate its sovereignty and fuel anti-American sentiment. But analysts believe that Pakistani intelligence agencies covertly help the US forces in locating and confirming the targets.

Dozens of Al Qaeda members have been eliminated by the drone strikes over the past year. A missile fired by a US unmanned aircraft early August killed former Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, paving the way for a Pakistani army offensive in the rugged district.

More than 30,000 troops moved into South Waziristan for an operation which Pakistan describes as crucial for the country’s internal security. More than 600 Taliban fighters have been killed in over 12-week action.

Taliban have retaliated the offensive with an intensified campaign of suicide bombings across the country.

A bomber detonated his explosives Wednesday morning outside an army barracks in the T’rar Khul area of the Sadhnoti district of the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir region.

“Three soldiers were martyred and 11 injured,” said the regional police chief Javed Iqbal.

Kashmir is disputed between Pakistan and India. The two countries have fought two wars over the territory, which they both claim.

Separately, five Taliban militants were killed Wednesday when an explosives-laden vehicle they were travelling exploded prematurely in Kurram tribal district, local Geo television reported.

Pakistani troops have been carrying out military operations against Taliban and affiliated Sunni extremist groups in Kurram district for around last two months. More than 50 rebels have died and over 60 have been captured in the operation so far.

Pakistani troops are chasing hundreds of militants in Kurram who fled the ongoing military offensive in South Waziristan tribal region.

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