Dawn News

MIRAMSHAH, Aug 19: The US carried out two drone strikes in North Waziristan Agency on Sunday, killing eight people and injuring one, sources said.

The death toll from three drone attacks in the volatile region along the border with Afghanistan during the past 24 hours rose to 14. Six people died and six others suffered injuries in a similar strike on a compound in Shuwedar area of Shawal tehsil on Saturday.

On Sunday, four missiles were fired at a car in Shuwedar before dawn which killed six people on board.

Hours later two missiles were fired into the same compound which came under attack on Saturday. The sources said that local people were carrying out rescue work at the compound when the drone fired missiles, leaving two men dead and another wounded.

Names of those killed and injured could not be ascertained.

Local officials said the compound in Shuwedar belonged to Mansoor, a `commander’ of the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Various militant groups have set up sanctuaries in Shawal area.

AFP adds: A security official confirmed the drone attacks and casualties.

The latest strikes came amid reports of a thaw in Pakistan’s generally deteriorating ties with the US following a visit to Washington by the chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, earlier this month.

Gen Islam’s talks with his CIA counterpart were said to have focused on drone strikes.

Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, which says they violate its sovereignty and fan anti-US sentiment, but US officials are said to believe the attacks are too important to give up.

The latest attacks were in the same region where a drone strike on June 4 killed 15 militants, including senior Al Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.

In protest against the drone attacks, a Pakistani Taliban `commander’, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, has banned vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, putting 240,000 children in the region at risk.

He has condemned the immunisation campaign as a cover for espionage.

In May, a Pakistani doctor was jailed for 33 years after helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden using a vaccination programme as cover.

Washington considers Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt the main hub of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.

The Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network in North Waziristan, blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, is one of the thorniest issues between Islamabad and Washington.

The US has long demanded that Pakistan take action against the Haqqanis, whom it accused of attacking its embassy in Kabul last September.

Pakistan has in turn demanded that Afghan and US forces do more to stop Pakistani Taliban crossing the Afghan border to relaunch attacks on its forces.

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