18 militants killed in US drone strike in Pakistan
The Haqqani network is a Taliban-linked group of militants that operates from North Waziristan.
Islamabad: Eighteen militants, including some foreign fighters, were killed when US drones targeted a compound of a militant commander believed to have links with the Haqqani network and al-Qaeda in northwest Pakistan Thursday.
Twelve people were also injured when drones fired at least four missiles at the compound in Buland Khel area of Orakzai Agency, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels.
Several foreigners were among the dead, the officials said.
A madrassa was being run in the compound by Maulvi Shakirullah, who has links with a Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, officials and local residents said.
The compound is located in an area close to North and South Waziristan tribal regions. Shakirullah`s group is also believed to have links with the Haqqani network and al-Qaeda.
The CIA-operated spy planes have rarely carried out attacks in Orakzai tribal region since the US launched its drone campaign in Pakistan`s tribal belt. This was only the second drone attack in Orakzai Agency and the first was carried out in 2009.
Today`s attack was also the second missile strike since Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan led a large rally against US drones over the weekend.
Khan, a leading opponent of the drone campaign, was barred from entering South Waziristan Agency by the army for security reasons.
The Foreign Ministry lodged a protest with the US Embassy this evening over the drone strikes carried out inside Pakistani territory yesterday and today.
"The Embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of international law and Pakistan`s sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan," Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said in the statement.