U.S. Drones Kill Three Militants in NW Pakistanإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A U.S. drone strike on Tuesday killed at least three militants in a restive Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border, security officials said.
Two U.S. drones fired four missiles on a vehicle in Shnakhura village, 10 kilometers from Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, considered a bastion of Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants.
"We have received confirmed reports that three militants have been killed in the drone strike on a vehicle. However, the identities of the militants are not yet clear," a senior security official told Agence France Presse in Peshawar.
Another official in Miranshah said a compound near the vehicle was "badly damaged and engulfed in flames" in the strike.
Separate but unconfirmed reports suggested more than three militants may have been killed.
"We suspect that the dead militants could be up to six. There are also reports that two were injured," a security official in Miranshah told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-U.S. sentiment, but U.S. officials are said to believe they are too important a weapon to give up.
The al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network in North Waziristan, blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, is one of the thorniest issues between Islamabad and Washington.
Washington has long demanded that Pakistan take action against the Haqqanis, whom the United States accused of attacking the U.S. embassy in Kabul last September and acting like the "veritable arm" of Pakistani intelligence.
Pakistan has in turn demanded that Afghan and US forces do more to stop Pakistani Taliban crossing the border from Afghanistan to launch attacks on its forces.
There has been a dramatic increase in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan since May, when a NATO summit in Chicago failed to strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.
On July 3 however, Islamabad agreed to end the blockade after the United States apologized for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in botched air strikes last November.
Pakistan's foreign ministry strongly protested against the drone strikes last week, saying in a statement that Islamabad "has consistently maintained that these attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity".