Nine militants killed in Pakistan air strikes
US drones and Pakistan Air Force carry out attacks in Taliban strongholds
An X-47B pilot-less drone combat aircraft flies over the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. Two insurgents were killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan overnight and seven others were killed by the Pakistan Air Force. Photograph: Reuters.
At least nine suspected militants, including two foreigners, were killed in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region in a US drone strike and a separate Pakistan military operation, security officials said today.
Pakistan has seen a spate of militant attacks since prime minister Nawaz Sharif took office last month, putting pressure on his team to act more aggressively to curb the insurgency.
Missile strikes by unmanned US aircraft have inflicted the most damage against Taliban fighters in the mountainous areas straddling the Afghan border in past years, sometimes with heavy civilian casualties.
In the third such attack since Mr Sharif came to power, two suspected militants riding a motorcycle were struck by missiles in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan last night, one official said.
“The two men, probably Arab nationals, were passing through Mosaki village when the drone fired two missiles and hit them,” said the official. Their identities were not clear. Another security source said they were foreign militants of Turkmen origin.
In a separate operation by the Pakistan Air Force, jets pounded several militant hideouts overnight, killing seven insurgents, senior security officials said.
“These areas are known as strongholds of the militants from where they stage deadly attacks in Kohat and Peshawar,” one official in Kohat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Pakistani military officials believe mountains linking the Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram tribal areas are one of the main strongholds for the Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan.
Many Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies fled Afghanistan to Pakistan’s tribal areas after the US invasion in 2001. They retreated even deeper into the mountains following a Pakistan army offensive in 2009, launching attacks from places where ground forces cannot reach them.