A US drone strike targeting a compound in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt on the Afghan border on Monday killed at least 10 militants, local security officials said.
Two unmanned aircraft fired four missiles, hitting the compound and a vehicle parked in the Gorwaik area of Datta Khel town, 45 kilometres (28 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, a senior official based in Peshawar, the regional capital told AFP.
“Two missiles struck the compound and another two hit a vehicle,” the official said. “At least 10 militants were killed in this American drone attack.”
A second security official based in Miranshah confirmed the death toll.
Both officials said the number of casualties could rise as the area of the drone strike had been completely destroyed.
Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants have carved out strongholds in the northwest where they are said to have plotted attacks on Pakistani, Afghan and Western targets.
A total of 20 US drone strikes have now been reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt since US commandos found and killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a unilateral airborne raid on the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2.
Officials said that all those killed in Monday’s strike were local militants.
Washington has called Pakistan’s semi-autonomous northwest tribal region the most dangerous place on Earth and the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States have deteriorated sharply since the killing of bin Laden, and Islamabad has demanded an end to the drone strikes.
President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, confirmed in a television interview on Sunday that the United States has decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Islamabad.
The bin Laden raid humiliated the Pakistani military and invited allegations of incompetence and complicity, while Washington has increasingly demanded that Islamabad take decisive action against terror networks.
The United States does not officially confirm Predator drone attacks, but its military and the CIA operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy the armed, unmanned aircraft in the region.
The missile strikes are hugely unpopular among a Pakistani public deeply opposed to the government’s alliance with Washington and sensitive to perceived violations of sovereignty.