|America intensifies drone strikes; 10 more killed|
04 June 2012
SOUTH WAZIRISTAN - At least 10 suspected militants were killed and three others injured in a drone strike in South Waziristan Agency on Sunday, security officials said as the United States pushes ahead with its drone campaign in the face of Pakistani demands to stop it.
An unmanned US spy plane fired a barrage of missiles on a house in Barmal area, killing ten suspected militants and injuring three others. According to reports, four drones were still hovering over the area, creating fear and panic among the residents.
Sources said two militants of defunct Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan: Malang Wazir and Ghulam Jan were also among the dead.
The authorities in South Waziristan confirmed the drone strike and the casualties.
Agencies add: US drone strikes targeting a militant compound in South Waziristan Sunday killed at least ten suspected militants, including a commander, security officials said.
Four missiles hit a house belonging to the commander, who supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, near Wana - the main town in the South Waziristan tribal district near the Afghan border - the officials said. “At least 10 militants have died. The house has been badly destroyed,” a security official said. Two other security officials confirmed the strikes in Wacha Dana town, 10 kilometres west of Wana.
The dead included militant commander Malang Jan, an associate of warlord Maulvi Nazir who sends fighters to Afghanistan to support the Taliban, a security official told AFP.
The attacks came when some people were leaving Jan’s house after conveying their condolences over the death of his younger brother in an earlier drone strike on Saturday, he said. The unmanned aircraft fired missiles when Malang Jan came out of the house to see off his friends. “The missiles killed Jan and also destroyed the car of his guests,” he added.
The officials said two of the dead were foreigners, and the rest were Pakistani.
Sunday’s attack comes amid an upsurge in drone strikes in Pakistan since a NATO conference on Afghanistan in Chicago last month. Seven US drone strikes have been reported since May’s Chicago summit, which failed to secure a deal on resuming the supply lines.
In March, Pakistan’s parliament agreed to reset US relations on condition that Washington apologise for the troops’ deaths and end drone attacks on its soil. Pakistan has been incensed by Washington’s refusal to apologise for the November air strikes and US officials have so far rejected Pakistani proposals to charge several thousand dollars for each alliance truck crossing the border.
Islamabad has become increasingly vocal in its opposition to the violation of national sovereignty.
Despite Pakistani criticism US officials are believed to consider the drone attacks too useful to stop them altogether.
According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2009, the year US President Barack Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011.
The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years.
Meanwhile, Canada defended the use of military drone attacks Sunday, saying technological advances have reduced the likelihood of civilian casualties.
Unmanned systems have proved their effectiveness in the decade-long US-led war in Afghanistan and also in NATO strikes in Libya last year, Canadian Defence Minister Peter Gordon MacKay said.
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