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25 killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan tribal belt

Friday, 22 April 2011 - 2:11pm IST | Place: ISLAMABAD | Agency: PTI
Unmanned American spy planes today unleashed 10 missiles at a compound in the volatile North Waziristan, killing at least 25 people, including civilians.

Days after Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani called for an end to drone attacks in his country, unmanned American spy planes today unleashed 10 missiles at a compound in the volatile North Waziristan, killing at least 25 people, including civilians.

The CIA operated drones targetted Spin Wam village near Mir Ali, which is home to Haqqani network, hitting a compound where militants were said to have gathered, officials in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, said.

Reports said that members of a Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who has a peace deal with the Pakistan government, were among the dead.

CNN quoted its sources as saying that the strike targeted Taliban members from Orakzai tribal region who were planning to sneak into Afghanistan.

Three women and five children were also among the dead, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying.

This was the 20th drone strike in North Waziristan agency this year.

Reports said militants had taken shelter in Spin Wam area due to US drone strikes in other parts of North Waziristan.

Local residents said they had seen several drones hovering over the area after the attack.

The strike came two days after US joint chiefs of staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen had identified the entire North Waziristhan as a hotbed of Haqqani, Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists planning strikes in neighbouring Afghanistan.

During his talks with with Pakistan's military leadership, Kayani demanded a halt to drone strikes in the tribal belt.

The Pakistani army chief said the attacks harmed Pakistan's anti-terror efforts and sparked public anger.

In his interactions with the media in Islamabad, Mullen indicated that the US had no plans to roll back the drone campaign as demanded by Pakistan's political and military leadership.

Today's attack by the CIA-operated spy planes was the first missile strike to hit North Waziristan since March 17, when drones targeted what Pakistani officials said was a tribal jirga or council and killed 44 people, including many civilians.

That attack sparked a diplomatic row between Islamabad and Washington. Pakistan has said that civilian casualties in the drone strikes have fuelled anti-American feelings in the country.

There were more than 110 missile strikes in the tribal belt last year.

 


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