30 May 2013

Fatal US drone strike on Pakistan

10:58 am on 30 May 2013

An American drone strike has killed up to seven people in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, the first such attack since a general election earlier in May in which the use of the unmanned aircraft was a major issue.

United States President Barack Obama recently indicated that he was scaling back the drone strike programme, winning cautious approval from Pakistan - a key ally in the US fight on militancy.

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry official condemned all such strikes.

"Any drone strike is against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan and we condemn it," the official, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters.

Pakistani security officials and Pashtun tribesmen in the northwestern region said the drone fired two missiles that struck a mud-built house at Chashma village, 3km east of Miranshah, the region's administrative town.

They said seven people were killed and four wounded. A Taliban source has told the BBC that the second-in-command of the Pakistani Taliban, Waliur Rehman, was killed in the strike.

North Waziristan is on the Afghan border and has long been a stronghold of militants including Afghan Taliban and their al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban allies.

Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif said earlier in May that drone strikes were a "challenge" to Pakistan's sovereignty.

"We will sit with our American friends and talk to them about this issue."

Mr Obama's announcement of scaling back drone strikes was widely welcomed by the people of North Waziristan, where drones armed with missiles have carried out the most strikes against militants over the past seven years, sometimes with heavy civilian casualties.

The strike also coincided with the first session of the newly elected provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the former Northwest Frontier Province.