US missile attack kills 10 militants in Pakistan: officials

US missile attack kills 10 militants in Pakistan: officials

A US missile strike from a drone aircraft Tuesday killed at least 10 militants in a tribal area of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said, AFP reported.

"The strike targeted a Taliban compound in Dargamandi village of North Waziristan, killing 10 militants," a senior security official told AFP.

Another official confirmed the casualties and said that a US drone fired two missiles to hit the compound, five kilometres (three miles) northwest of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

He said it was not immediately clear whether any "high-value" targets were present in the area at the time.

It was the second US missile strike in the North Waziristan tribal region in less than 24 hours. A similar strike targeting a madrassa (Islamic school) and an adjoining house killed at least five people on Monday.

Residents on Tuesday said they had seen the drone hovering in the sky and had been expecting the missile attack.

Washington alleges Al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels who fled Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion are holed up in the semi-autonomous tribal belt.

The US military does not, as a rule, confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in neighbouring Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy drones in the region.

Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack on August 5 in neighbouring South Waziristan tribal district.

Pakistan has also carried out air strikes against Mehsud hideouts and commanders have vowed to hunt down the warlord's militant network in the remote northwest region known as a base for Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels.

Pakistan's previous government accused Mehsud of masterminding the 2007 assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a string of other attacks that have killed hundreds of people here over the last two years.

Mehsud also allegedly masterminded multiple deadly bombings in the last two years.

More than 2,000 people have died in bombings across the country since July 2007, when government forces besieged a radical mosque in Islamabad and Mehsud loyalists claimed responsibility for some of the worst attacks.

Islamabad publicly opposes suspected US missile strikes, saying they violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the populace. Since August 2008, around 55 such strikes have killed more than 550 people.

But many analysts and observers believe that the government tacitly supports the attacks, as it shares the US goal of eliminating Mehsud's network, which is blamed for scores of deadly attacks in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Pakistan in April launched a punishing military offensive against the Taliban in the northwest, targeting the rebels in the districts of Swat, Buner and Lower Dir after militants advanced closer to the capital Islamabad.

The military claimed to have cleared the area of Taliban and vowed to turn their attention to the mountainous tribal belt along the border where Mehsud and his Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have thrived since 2007.

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