Islamabad: At least 11 militants, linked
to the dreaded Haqqani network, were killed and several more
injured when US drones on Monday attacked a car and a compound in
Pakistan`s restive Kurram tribal region, which has rarely been
targeted by the CIA-operated unmanned spy planes.
The drones carried out the missile strikes in Kharh
Dand, a remote area of Kurram Agency. The region borders
Afghanistan`s eastern Paktia province.
Reports said a majority of the dead were Afghan
fighters from the al Qaeda linked Haqqani network.
The drones initially targeted a vehicle in which
suspected militants were travelling. When some more rebels
gathered in the area to carry out a rescue operation, the
drones struck again.
The drones also targeted a militant compound.
A total of 11 militants were killed and several others
injured in the three attacks.
The Kharh Dand area is a stronghold of militant
commander Fazal Saeed, who is linked to the Haqqani network.
The CIA`s drone campaign has largely focussed on
militant hideouts in the North Waziristan and South Waziristan
regions, where scores of missile strikes have been carried out
in the past three years.
Officials in Kurram Agency told the media that there
had been only three drone strikes reported in the region.
Today`s attacks marked an expansion of the drone
campaign despite calls from the Pakistan government to end the
Security sources said militants from Waziristan,
Khyber and Orakzai tribal regions had moved to remote and
mountainous parts of Kurram Agency. They are active in the
area and have blocked several key routes.
Kurram Agency has witnessed widespread sectarian
violence between Shia and Sunni tribesmen since 2007. Hundreds
of people have died in clashes between the rival tribesmen.
The situation in the region took a turn for the worse
after Taliban fighters infiltrated the area and began backing
A truce between the rival tribesmen, reportedly
brokered by the Haqqani militant network, has repeatedly been
violated in recent months.
Local tribesmen said the Haqqani network cut a deal
with the Shia Muslims in Kurram so that its fighters could
cross over to Afghanistan through the region.
In a related development, tribesmen in the volatile
North Waziristan Agency organised a protest against US
drone strikes in the tribal belt. All markets in the region
were closed and the protest affected life in Miranshah,
Mirali, Razmak and Datta Khel.
Hundreds of tribesmen, carrying black flags and
shouting slogans against the drone strikes, closed key roads.
They demanded that the attacks by the spy planes
should be stopped immediately as innocent people, including
women and children, were being killed.
The tribesmen warned they would block NATO supply
routes if the Pakistan government failed to stop the drone
Speakers who address the protestors alleged the US is
firing missiles into North Waziristan with the help of the
government. Tribal elder Malik Shahjehan said the tribesmen
would march on Islamabad if the government did not stop drone
Other elders said the government has failed to
implement a parliamentary resolution which last month called
for an end to drone strikes.