US drone attack kills four militants in Pakistan


Islamabad : At least four Islamic militants were killed Wednesday in a missile strike by a suspected pilotless US aircraft in northwest Pakistan, a Pakistani official said.

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One of the two missiles fired hit a house in the Jani Khel semi-tribal area of the Bannu district in the North-West Frontier Province.

The pre-dawn airstrike destroyed a mud compound that belonged to a Taliban militant named Dilber, alias Parpand, a local intelligence official said, on the condition of anonymity.

He said three of the victims were foreigners, a term used to refer to Al Qaeda-linked fighters of Arab or Central Asian origin. The fourth dead man was a local fighter identified as Rafiullah.

“The Taliban cordoned off the area after the attack and moved the bodies of the three foreigners to some undisclosed location,” the official said.

District police officer Mohammad Alam confirmed the attack but claimed all those killed were locals.

The US in recent months has intensified strikes by pilotless aircraft against militants in Pakistan’s tribal region, from which the Islamist insurgents launch cross border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

But Wednesday’s attack was the first US airstrike outside tribal regions and in the settled areas.

Pakistan, a key US ally, has been angered by the air raids, which have caused many civilian casualties, and warned that such actions would prove “counterproductive” in the fight against terrorism.

NWFP’s Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti condemned the Bannu attack and warned that the government will be “forced to review its diplomatic relations with the US if such actions continued.”