Three U.S. drone strikes kill at least 12 in NW Pakistan

MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) — At least twelve people were killed on Monday when U.S. drones carried out three separate airstrikes in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region, Pakistani intelligence officials said. It comes amidst an increase in U.S. airstrikes in recent days.

The first attack happened when an unmanned U.S. drone fired up to six missiles at a house in Mir Ali district, northeast of Miranshah which is the main town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan. The house, which was completely destroyed, was believed to have been used as a militant hideout.

Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the early morning airstrike killed at least six suspected militants and injured several others who were taken from the scene by other militants. It was not possible to independently confirm whether those killed in the drone strikes were militants or civilians.

Soon after the first attack, another U.S. drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in the same district, killing two suspected militants.

Later, on late Monday evening, at least four suspected militants were killed when another U.S. drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in the village of Pai Khel in Datta Khel district of North Waziristan. The vehicle was completely destroyed and there were no reports of survivors, intelligence officials said.

The alleged affiliation of the militants were not immediately known, but sources said several Uzbek nationals are believed to be among those killed and wounded.

U.S. drones have carried out a series of airstrikes in recent days, killing more than 30 suspected militants and injuring others. Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Moazzam Khan has condemned the recent drone attacks, calling them a “total violation” of Pakistan’s territory. He said the U.S. strikes are “illegal, violation of international law and unacceptable,” but said the Pakistani government wants to solve the issue through dialogue.

On April 30, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. Political Councilor Jonathan Pratt to protest a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan. The drone strike a day earlier targeted an abandoned high school for girls in Miranshah, killing four suspected militants and injuring three others. It was not possible to independently verify the figures.

Pakistani officials have repeatedly described the U.S. drone attacks as illegal. Pakistani President Asif Zardari has also stated the need to establish alternative security operations to the drone strikes, but U.S. officials have indicated that they will continue to carry out U.S. drone strikes to take out militants.

Few details about casualties from the strikes are usually available, but allegations of civilian casualties regularly spark protests in Pakistan. According to the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation, as many as 2,680 individuals were killed as a result of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and early 2012.

In January, U.S. President Barack Obama, for the first time during his presidency, publicly acknowledged that U.S. drones regularly strike suspected militants along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He confirmed that many of these strikes are carried out in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in tough terrain.

The U.S. considers the Pakistan-Afghan border to be the most dangerous place on Earth. The area is known to be a stronghold of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, which is one of the top terrorist organizations and threats to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

But controversy has surrounded the drone strikes as local residents and officials have blamed them for killing innocent civilians and motivating young men to join the Taliban. Details about the alleged militants are usually not provided, and the U.S. government does not comment on the strikes.

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