US missiles kill 14 in Pakistan

MIR ALI, Pakistan: Two suspected US missile attacks hit alleged militant targets in a Pakistani tribal area on Tuesday, intelligence officials said, making recent weeks the most intense period of such strikes since they began in earnest more than two and half years ago.

The strikes — which killed at least 14 alleged militants – bring to 12 the number of attacks this month, according to a tally by the Associated Press. They hit in a part of North Waziristan region dominated by the Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadur networks of militants fighting US troops across the border in Afghanistan.

In the first strike, missiles from an unmanned plane destroyed a house in the northern part of Shawal village, killing 10 suspected insurgents, according to intelligence officials. Several hours later, a vehicle was struck in Kuttab Khel village close to Miran Shah in North Waziristan, killing four alleged militants and wounding one more, officials said.

Bahadur struck a truce with the Pakistani military and agreed to stay on the sidelines last year as it waged an offensive in the South Waziristan tribal area against the Pakistani Taleban, a group dedicated to attacking the Pakistani state, among other targets.

Bahadur has focused instead on battling US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has condemned the American missile strikes as violations of its sovereignty, warning the civilian casualties they cause deepen anti-US sentiment and complicate the fight against terrorism. But many suspect the two countries have a deal allowing the attacks.

The United States does not acknowledge firing the missiles, which are believed to be fired from unmanned drones launched from Afghanistan or Pakistan and piloted remotely from the United States. It has launched several hundred since 2004, though the tempo picked up in early 2009 and has continued climbing ever since.

Until now, the highest number of airstrikes inside Pakistan in a single month was the 11 launched in January 2010 after a suicide bomber killed a Jordanian intelligence officer and seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan. – Arabnews