U.S. Drone Strike Kills Five in Northwest Pakistan

A U.S. drone strike killed at least five militants in Pakistan's restive tribal region near the Afghan border on Thursday, Pakistani security officials said, the second such attack this year.

The strike targeted a Taliban compound in South Waziristan, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that border Afghanistan, and an area that has been a hub for Al-Qaida and Taliban militants since the early 2000s.

Recent drone attacks by the U.S. have raised speculation that Washington and Islamabad are coordinating their military efforts.

Pakistan however officially denounces the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty.

"A U.S. drone fired two missiles at a compound in Laddha village killing five terrorists and wounding three others," a senior security official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another security official confirmed the strike and casualties.

"Two Uzbek and three local militants were killed in the drone strike," a third local intelligence official said.

The area is generally off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.

Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which have been used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military launched a major offensive in the area in June and says it has killed more than 1,700 militants so far, with 126 soldiers having lost their lives.

The latest strikes came after Pakistan ramped up its anti-terror strategy in the wake of a December 16 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 150 people, 134 of them children.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced the establishment of military courts for terror-related cases in order to accelerate trials, and the premier has also lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for terrorism-related cases.

Source: Agence France Presse

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