US drone attacks on Pak turn into a virtual blitz

Islamabad: Overriding Islamabad`s objections, US has turned drone strikes on Pakistan virtually into a blitz hitting the lawless border belt again today killing 15 militants.

This was the eighth drone strike on Pakistan`s turbulent northwest since the Nato conference in US, which failed to break the impasse on reopening of land supply routes to allied forces vis Pakistan.

A CIA-drone targetted a compound and a vehicle in Mir Ali, 25 km from Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency, suspected by Americans to be a beehive of activity by the al-Qaeda and Haqqani network of the Taliban.

Twelve militants were killed instantly while three others died later in hospital, local tribesmen said on phone from Miranshah. Reports said several persons were injured and that some foreign fighters were among the dead.

Local residents said the strike created panic among people. Tribesmen went to the site and took the injured to a local hospital.

The US has stepped up the drone strikes shortly after the summit, as Pakistan did not make any announcement about ending a six-month blockade of supply routes to Afghanistan. The supply lines were shut after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year.

Most of the drone strikes were carried out in North Waziristan Agency, though attacks over the past two days had focussed on South Waziristan, where the Pakistan Army conducted an operation to flush out the Taliban three years ago. The new attack came barely 24 hours after US missiles killed 10 militants in a strike on a house in South Waziristan yesterday.

Pakistan says the US drone strikes on its soil are a serious violation of its sovereignty and a contravention of international law, but the US insists that the spy planes are an effective way to fight militants. The drone strikes have added to tensions between the US and Pakistan.

According to US security experts, drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 militants in Pakistan in the last eight years.