Dec 18, 2010
U.S. drone aircraft launched series of strikes in a Pakistani tribal region on Friday and killed 35 people, local TV channels reported.
Three drone strikes into the Khyber tribal region, bordering Afghanistan, is a sign of U.S. plan to expand drone attacks to other areas outside Waziristan region.
Dawn TV reported the drones struck centers of Lashkar-e-Islam or army of Islam militant group. Three hideouts of the group were destroyed, the report said.
Local media had earlier reported 24 deaths in the attacks and more bodies were recovered from the rubbles, raising the death toll to 35.
Express TV put the death toll at 51.
There was no official confirmation of the death toll.
Earlier reports said that the first strike was carried out at Sipah area in Khyber, killing five people, including a commander of the group and members of the Lashkar. The second strike took place after an hour at Nahki area of the agency, killing 15 militants. And the third strike had killed four people.
TV channels said that the third strike was launched to hit the chief of the group Mangal Bagh, who is also wanted to Pakistani government. There was no report about Mangal Bagh.
It is the second consecutive day of U.S. drone strikes in Khyber agency.
On Thursday, seven people were killed when a U.S. drone aircraft targeted a vehicle in Tirah valley of Khyber agency.
U.S. drone aircraft regularly launch strikes in Pakistan’s Waziristan region, which CIA consider as the main base for al- Qaeda and Taliban militants.
Several militant groups, including Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are active in the region, also the main supply route to NATO forces in Afghanistan. Taliban militants attack NATO supply vehicles in Khyber agency.
The fresh strike came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced Afghan war strategy, asking Pakistan to do more against the militants on its soil.
“Progress has not come fast enough, so we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with,” Mr Obama said at the White House on Thursday while launching his first review of the US strategy for Afghanistan.