US drones kill 4 in Pakistan

Islamabad: Four militants were killed when US drones targeted a vehicle in Pakistan`s restive North Waziristan tribal region today, taking the total number of missile strikes in the area since Saturday to four.

Two drones fired four missiles at the vehicle in Dattakhel area near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency, which is considered a safe haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda elements.

The vehicle was destroyed and four militants in it were killed, security officials told the media. Two others were injured. Drones kept flying over the area after the attack.

Over 20 suspected militants, a majority of them members of a Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, have died in the four drone strikes carried out in North Waziristan since Saturday.

Ten militants were killed in two drone strikes in North Waziristan on Sunday. Most of the attacks were carried out in Shawal area. The area is dominated by Hafiz Gul Bahadur`s fighters, who often target US and other foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The US has been pushing Pakistan to act against Taliban and Al Qaeda elements in North Waziristan.

Last week, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta claimed Pakistan was preparing an operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan.

However, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said his forces will undertake an operation in North Waziristan "at a timeframe of our choosing and determined only by our political and military requirements". No operation will be launched due to "outside pressure", he said.

There have been five drone attacks since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramzan and two since Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam visited Washington earlier this month.

Islam had raised Pakistan`s demand for ending drone attacks during his talks with US officials.

The Taliban recently banned polio vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, saying they would not be allowed as long as the US drone strikes continued.