PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has strongly condemned a US drone strike in South Waziristan that killed at least seven suspected militants, including a key commander of Haqqani network, on Thursday and termed it unnecessary, said a Foreign Office spokesperson.
"These drone strikes are a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity and should be stopped," FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said at a news briefing.
The attack happened early Thursday in Nargas village of Birmil area, some 30 kilometres west of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border which is considered a stronghold of Taliban militants.
Officials and a militant source said four foreigners and a Haqqani network commander, who is blamed for numerous bloody attacks in Afghanistan, were among those killed.
“At least seven militants were killed in the drone strike,” an intelligence official based in Wana told AFP, adding that the dead included four foreigners and a top Haqqani commander.
“Abdullah Haqqani (the commander) was responsible for sending suicide bombers to Afghanistan,” the official said.
Another official in the neighbouring garrison town of Bannu confirmed the death toll and killing of the commander.
A source in a militant group said that a vehicle loaded with arms and ammunition was also destroyed in the attack.
Speaking at the press briefing, Aslam said Pakistan has always taken up the issue of drone strikes with the US administration at every level because these attacks are also a violation of international laws.
Responding to a question, she said the recent visit by Iranian deputy foreign minister was successful and that Pakistan and Iran had productive discussion on a wide range of issues.
When her attention was drawn to an International crises group report about Pakistan's foreign policy, she termed it baseless and said all relevant institutions are consulted with regards to its formulation.
On a question about an Iranian Ambassador's name on a hit list of militants, she said the interior ministry might have communicated this to the Iranian embassy in Islamabad via the foreign office.
She added that security and protection of all foreign diplomats in Islamabad is the responsibility of the government and it is fully cognizant in this regard.
Pakistani military launched a major offensive in North Waziristan in June and say they have killed more than 1,100 militants so far, with 100 soldiers losing their lives in the operation.
South Waziristan is among Pakistan’s seven tribal districts near the Afghan border which are rife with insurgents and are alleged to be strongholds of Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, among others.
The tribal region was once the main stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban. The military launched a large offensive against militants there in 2009 but insurgents still operate in the area and periodically stage attacks.
Drone attacks are widely unpopular across Pakistan and according to a survey conducted in June this year, 66 per cent of the country's citizens oppose these strikes. On the other hand, there are some who believe the US drones are better weapons to use against militants as compared to Pakistan Air Force jets.
US drone strikes targeting various countries based on intelligence reports remain deeply unpopular as according to a survey, out of 31 nations, at least half disapprove of the US conducting drone attacks targeting extremists in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.