U.S. drone strike kills 12 militants in Pakistan’s tribal region

MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. drone strike struck a suspected militant compound in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region on Monday, killing at least twelve suspected militants and injuring two others, Pakistani intelligence officials said on Tuesday. There were no reports of civilian casualties.

The unmanned U.S. drone fired at least six missiles at a suspected militant hideout in Dray Nastar village in the Shawal Tehsil area, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Miranshah, the main town of Pakistan’s volatile North Waziristan tribal area, which is also near the Afghan border.

Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the compound was also used as a training facility and may have links to Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a prominent leader of a local Pakistani Taliban faction. There were also reports the compound was being used by militant commander Sadiq Noor, but there was no evidence to suggest either were present when the attack happened.

The officials said at least twelve suspected militants were killed in Monday’s airstrike, which completely destroyed the militant compound. “We are still trying to establish their identities, but we have no reports of civilians among the casualties” the official said. “Two militants were also wounded.”

Last month, al-Qaeda deputy leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed when an unmanned U.S. drone fired at least two missiles at a compound and a nearby pickup truck in the village of Hesokhel, located in the Mir Ali district just east of Miranshah. It was the most serious blow to al-Qaeda since U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden during a secret military operation in the Pakistani city of Abbotabad in May 2011.

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