MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) — At least ten people were killed on Thursday when a U.S. drone carried out an airstrike in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region, the second in as many days, Pakistani intelligence officials said. The Pakistani government condemned the strikes.
The latest attack was carried out on early Thursday morning when an unmanned U.S. drone fired two missiles at a suspected militant hideout in Khassokhel village of Mir Ali district, northeast of Miranshah which is the main town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. operation targeted a building where Uzbek insurgents were believed to be hiding. They said at least ten people were killed and several others were injured, but it was not possible to confirm whether they were militants or if civilians were among the casualties.
Officials gave conflicting information about the structure which was targeted, and some said it may have been used as a local mosque by the militants. Locals reported seeing several aircraft, believed to be U.S. drones, flying in the area around the time of the attack.
Thursday’s airstrike came just a day after a U.S. drone fired two missiles at a suspected militant compound in the Tabai area near Miranshah, killing at least four suspected militants. There were unconfirmed reports that several people were also injured in the attack. Their nationalities and affiliation are unknown.
Moazzam Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, condemned the two U.S. drone attacks, calling them a “total violation” of Pakistan’s territory. He said the U.S. drone attacks are “illegal, violation of international law and unacceptable,” but said the Pakistani government wants to solve the issue through dialogue.
On April 30, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. Political Councilor Jonathan Pratt to protest a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan. The drone strike a day earlier targeted an abandoned high school for girls in Miranshah, killing four suspected militants and injuring three others. It was not possible to independently verify the figures.
Pakistani officials have repeatedly described the U.S. drone attacks as illegal. Pakistani President Asif Zardari has also stated the need to establish alternative security operations to the drone strikes, but U.S. officials have indicated that they will continue to carry out U.S. drone strikes to take out militants.
Few details about casualties from the strikes are usually available, but allegations of civilian casualties regularly spark protests in Pakistan. According to the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation, as many as 2,680 individuals were killed as a result of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and early 2012.
In January, U.S. President Barack Obama, for the first time during his presidency, publicly acknowledged that U.S. drones regularly strike suspected militants along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He confirmed that many of these strikes are carried out in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in tough terrain.
The U.S. considers the Pakistan-Afghan border to be the most dangerous place on Earth. The area is known to be a stronghold of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, which is one of the top terrorist organizations and threats to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
But controversy has surrounded the drone strikes as local residents and officials have blamed them for killing innocent civilians and motivating young men to join the Taliban. Details about the alleged militants are usually not provided, and the U.S. government does not comment on the strikes.