ISLAMABAD – A suspected U.S. drone fired four missiles at a vehicle carrying Uzbek and local militants in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 10 of them, two Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The missiles hit the moving vehicle when it was about 500 metres (yards) away from the Afghan border in the Pakistani border town of Datta Khel in North Waziristan, the officials said.
Both Uzbek and local militants were among the 10 men killed, the officials said, adding that authorities were trying to get more details. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
U.S. drones often target militants in North Waziristan, which is home to local and al-Qaida-linked insurgents who carry out attacks on both sides of the porous border.
The strikes are extremely contentious in Pakistan, where many consider them a violation of the country’s sovereignty and express concern over the killing of civilians. The Foreign Office condemned the latest strikes in a statement, saying they were unnecessary given Pakistan’s own massive ground operation against militants in the region, which was launched in June.
The military says it has killed over 1,000 militants since launching the long-awaited operation in North Waziristan on June 15, but such claims are difficult to verify independently because of the remoteness and the inaccessibility of the region. U.S. officials rarely comment on the covert drone program.