US drone strike kills six in Waziristan


MIRANSHAH: A US drone attack killed six suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt on Sunday, security officials said, a day after Islamabad rejected reports the covert missile campaign could expand.
The officials said two missiles slammed into a compound in Khaddi village, 15 kilometres (10 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan and considered a hub for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants. “The compound and vehicle parked nearby were destroyed in the attack and at least six militants are dead,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The casualties were confirmed by an intelligence official as US President Barack Obama and NATO leaders wrapped up a summit in Lisbon after announcing plans to hand control of security in Afghanistan to local forces in 2014.
Washington has massively ramped up its drone campaign against militants in areas near the Afghan border over the past two months, and argues they are highly effective in the war against al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the US was seeking to expand the areas inside Pakistan where Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) unmanned aircraft — used for surveillance and to launch missile strikes — could operate.
But the US strikes are deeply unpopular among the Pakistani public, who see military action on Pakistani soil as a breach of national sovereignty and say some attacks have killed innocent civilians.
More than 240 people have been killed in 46 strikes since September 3, angering the government, which is facing criticism for acquiescing to the attacks and reprisals from militant groups based in the area. The Foreign Ministry on Saturday said it would reject any overtures to allow the drone campaign to be expanded deeper into its territory.
“As for the reported suggestion by the US to carry out drone attacks beyond our tribal areas, Pakistan’s position is very clear — we would never allow this to happen,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told AFP. “The Americans should rather revisit their drone attack policy and stop carrying out strikes in our tribal areas.”
Washington says the strikes have killed a number of high-value targets, including the former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud. The US considers Pakistan’s tribal belt an Al-Qaeda headquarters and the most dangerous place on Earth, and has reportedly criticised Pakistan’s failure so far to launch a major ground offensive in the tribal region of North Waziristan.