13 killed in U.S. air strike in Pakistan

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Map of Waziristan, Pakistan

A suspected United States drone missile attack in northwestern Pakistan has left 13 people dead, local security officials say.

The strike hit a town in the tribal area of North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, an apparent stronghold of Al-Qaeda militants.

"Thirteen people were killed. Ten of them are militants and the identity of the other three — whether they are militants or civilians — is not yet confirmed," a local official told AFP, asking to remain anonymous.

"The missile hit a house where some guests were staying. We have information that 13 people were killed including some guests," an intelligence official stated.

The apparent target was the home of Tariq Khan, a local Wazir tribesman, who has been described as a 'facilitator of the Taliban'.

Pakistan has repeatedly condemned the U.S. drone attacks. Just two days prior to this latest attack, foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a press briefing that "they are violations of our sovereignty and secondly they are counterproductive. They are not helpful in our efforts to win hearts and minds. So we cannot accept drone attacks," he said.

US special envoy Richard Holbrooke is scheduled to visit Pakistan next week and this issue will be discussed, according to Basit.

More than 35 suspected drone attacks have killed over 340 people since August last year.