MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) — At least six suspected militants were killed on Thursday when a U.S. drone carried out an airstrike in Pakistan’s volatile North Waziristan region, officials said on Friday. It is the second attack in less than a week.
The unmanned aircraft launched a series of missiles targeting a vehicle in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Thursday, intelligence officials said. The targeted vehicle, suspected to have been carrying militants, had stopped for some reason when it was destroyed by the airstrike.
Six people, all believed to be militants, were killed as a result of the attack, and Pakistani media suggested they were possibly foreigners from Turkmenistan although officials were unable to confirm this. Two other people were believed to be injured in the strike.
Thursday’s airstrike came only two days after U.S. drones resumed their controversial attacks in the region following a break of more than six weeks. Four suspected militants were killed on Tuesday when a U.S. drone carried out an airstrike, also in North Waziristan.
The U.S. temporarily halted its drone attacks in Pakistan in late November after NATO helicopters crossed the border from Afghanistan and carried out several airstrikes in the Mohmand Agency of Pakistan’s tribal areas, accidentally killing 24 Pakistani troops. The strike infuriated the Pakistani government and triggered widespread anti-U.S. demonstrations.
Prior to Tuesday’s airstrike, the last time a U.S. drone launched an attack within Pakistan was on November 17 when 16 suspected militants were killed, including at least two members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militant group.
In 2011, at least 609 people were killed as a result of 75 drone strikes in Pakistan, according to a report released by the Conflict Monitoring Center. In total, the group has documented 303 drone strikes since 2004, with a total death toll of at least 2,661.
The report showed that the two deadliest months in 2011 were March and June when 89 and 117 people were killed, respectively. Some of the deadliest attacks were carried out on July 11 and 12 when four airstrikes left 63 people killed.
However, in its annual report, the Center said the U.S. drone strike campaign was only able to kill four senior commanders and no more than four al-Qaeda leaders, although scores of other militants with lower ranks were killed. Among those killed were at least three Arab al-Qaeda commanders and 37-year-old Mohammed Azmir, one of the United Kingdom’s most wanted. Azmir was killed along with another British terrorist, Ibrahim Adam.
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. 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.