Islamabad: At least 10 militants, including a top Taliban commander, were killed today in a US drone strike in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, the first such attack this year by CIA-operated pilotless aircraft in the country.
The drone targeted a compound in Shawal region, one of the seven tribal district in Pakistan, where the military is engaged in an operation against al-Qaeda-linked militants. Ten militants including the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur were reportedly killed in the drone strike, Geo News reported. The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at the compound of Gul Bahadur, killing the TTP commander and 9 others in Alwar Mandi of Shawal, the report said citing sources. Several others also sustained injuries in the strike.
Shawal is a mountainous region on Pakistan-Afghan border where al-Qaeda militants are still hiding despite a relentless military campaign by Pakistan Army, which killed more than 1,500 militants since start of an operation in June last year. It was the first drone strike this year. North Waziristan has long been used as shelter by the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants and has frequently been targeted by US drones.
For almost a decade, American drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt have been deeply unpopular with the public. Pakistani officials have publicly condemned the drone strikes, saying they violate sovereignty.