10 killed in US drone attack in Pak tribal region

Islamabad: A US drone targeted a compound in the restive North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan today, killing 10 suspected militants, officials said.

The unmanned spy plane fired two missiles at the compound in Tappi area, 10 km from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels. The compound was destroyed in the attack that was carried out at around 7 am. Several injured persons were taken to a nearby hospital.

Residents of Tappi said militants announced over a mosque`s loudspeaker that funeral prayers for the dead would be held in the afternoon. The local residents said the men who were killed did not belong to the area.

Intelligence officials told Express News channel that there was a possibility that the dead men were from Punjab province. Other reports said foreign fighters from Central Asia were among the dead.

This was the fifth drone strike of the year, and came days after President Barack Obama acknowledged for the first time that the US was using drones to target militants in Pakistan`s tribal belt. US officials have described Pakistan`s tribal belt, especially North Waziristan, as a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements fighting in Afghanistan.

The missile strikes fuel widespread anti-American sentiments, which are running high since a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. Following the air strike, Pakistan closed all NATO supply routes and forced the US to vacate Shamsi airbase, reportedly a hub for CIA-operated drones.