8 die as US steps up drone attacks in Pak

Islamabad: Stepping up missile attacks in the restive Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan's northwest, US drones targeted a Taliban training camp in the area, killing at least eight militants including an al-Qaeda operative.

In the fourth such major attack, the drones fired several missiles at the training camp near Mir Ali town that was being used by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Hakimullah Mehsud, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels.

Reports said the drones had targeted two different locations in North Waziristan Agency.

Two important Taliban commanders and an Al-Qaeda operative were believed to be among the dead, reports said.

These reports could not be independently confirmed as journalists are barred from reporting from the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

On Sunday, 16 militants were killed when several drones carried out a coordinated attack on three compounds in South Waziristan Agency.

The militant in charge of training suicide bombers was believed to have been killed in the strike.

On January 2, warlord Mullah Nazir and 12 of his fighters were killed in another drone strike in South Waziristan.

Nazir was considered to be among the "good Taliban" as he had finalised a peace deal with Pakistani security forces and sent his militants to attack US and allied troops in Afghanistan.

The US drone campaign has been publicly criticised by the Pakistan government as counter-productive and a violation of sovereignty but American officials say they are a vital element in the war against terrorism.