Pakistani officials: Suspected US missiles kill 16
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — U.S. drones fired missiles at two compounds in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing 16 alleged militants in the second such attack in the region in less than 24 hours, Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday.
Bombings and clashes elsewhere killed at least 26 other people, including three suspected insurgents and a police officer who died when a car blew up late Wednesday in the country’s largest city of Karachi.
The drone strikes came just before midnight Tuesday in Bobar village in the South Waziristan tribal area, a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
The two compounds were hit about 20 minutes apart, the officials said. It was unclear how many suspected militants were killed in each place.
Pakistani officials have criticized drone strikes as violations of the country’s sovereignty, but the government is widely believed to have supported the strikes in the past and even let the drones take off from bases inside Pakistan.
Pakistani criticism has been more muted when the attacks target members of the Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaida, rather than Afghan militants with whom the government has historical ties. Many analysts believe Pakistan sees the Afghan Taliban and their allies as potential partners in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.
The Pakistani military conducted a large ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan in 2009, but militants remain in the area and periodic attacks still occur. The area where the drones struck is very remote and has not yet been cleared by the military, said the intelligence officials. There has been at least one strike in this area before.
The U.S. does not acknowledge the CIA-run drone program in Pakistan publicly, but officials have said privately that the strikes have killed many senior al-Qaida and Taliban commanders.
The Obama administration has ramped up the number of drone strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal region in the past few years. A strike earlier Tuesday in North Waziristan killed seven militants, officials said.