Pak: 45 killed in heaviest US drone strikes

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 21:53

Peshawar: At least 45 militants were
killed in Pakistan`s restive northwest in one of the deadliest
strikes by US drones, signalling Washington`s resolve to step
up assault on terror groups in this country despite growing
strains in ties with its key ally.

The unusually heavy barrage of three missile strikes
in a span of 12 hours, targeting militant hideouts in north
and south Waziristan took one of the largest death toll in the
controversial unacknowledged air campaign.

The drone attacks commenced on Monday night when
unmanned air craft unleashed nine missiles into a suspected
militant compound and a vehicle in north Waziristan, killing
25 militants, local officials were quoted by TV channels as
saying.

Few hours later, the drone struck again in nearby
South Waziristan firing missiles and killing five militants.

The drones reappeared early this morning over the area
firing two missiles at another compound in North Waziristan
killing 15 militants.

It was the second largest death toll in drone
campaign. In 2009 a missile attack killed 70 militants in
south Waziristan.

The stepped up drone campaign follows on the heels of
Obama Administration`s announcement that it was suspending
more than one-third of the massive USD 2 billion military
assistance to Pakistan.

The three attacks in quick succession indicates that
White House has no intention of stopping the drone campaign
that has contributed to tensions between Washington and
Islamabad.

Washington has called Pakistan`s semi-autonomous North
West Tribal Region as the most dangerous place on earth and
the global headquarters of dreaded Al Qaeda and is pressing
Islamabad to launch a full scale military operation in North
Waziristan region to strike at Haqqani network faction of the
Taliban.

But the Pakistan military claims that its troops are
too over stretched by operations against Taliban in other
areas to undertake such an offensive, but analysts believe
that Islamabad is hesitant to cross militants with whom it has
historical links and who could be useful allies in Afghanistan
after foreign forces withdraw.

In response, the Obama Administration has dramatically
increased drone strikes in North Waziristan over the past
couple of years, besides also hitting South Waziristan.

A total of 21 US drone strikes have been reported in
Pakistan`s tribal areas since the US Navy SEALs killed world`s
most wanted fugitive and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in
Abbottabad on May 2.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - 21:53

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