الأحد , يونيو 7 2020

US drone hits 'resume in Pakistan'

Pakistani tribesmen clear rubble and belongings from their destroyed houses following Pakistan military airstrikes against suspected Taliban hideouts in Miranshah in North Waziristan on 24 May 2014. Pakistan has carried out intensive airstrikes in the North Waziristan region in recent weeks

The US has resumed its drones programme in Pakistan, with two strikes on militant strongholds in the North Waziristan tribal region overnight.

Officials say at least three militants were killed with reports of 16 dead.

It come days after militants attacked Karachi international airport, killing 39 people, including 10 attackers.

Washington agreed to suspend its drones programme in December to allow Islamabad to pursue peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP).

But pressure has been mounting on the Pakistani authorities to launch a ground offensive on the region amid a breakdown in peace talks.

Double hit

The two drone strikes took place within hours of each other, striking a compound in a village near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.

After an initial strike at 20:30 local time (15:30 GMT) on Wednesday evening, the same area was hit in the early hours of Thursday morning.

“Three US drones fired six missiles on militants who had gathered to dig the debris of a compound,” a security official told the AFP news agency, referring to the compound destroyed in the earlier drone strike.

Pakistan’s Geo News reports that as many as 16 people were killed in the two attacks.

Internally displaced Pakistanis arrive in Bannu, a town on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt of Waziristan, on 11 June 2014. Thousands of people have fled the region amid fears of a widescale military offensive against the militants

Officials say some of those killed in the first attack were Uzbeks and local Taliban members, according to the AFP news agency.

On Wednesday, Uzbek militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) claimed to have carried out the attack on the airport, saying it was in retaliation for military air strikes.

The group, which is highly-trained and has bases in North Waziristan, has previously carried out large-scale co-ordinated attacks with al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan.

Washington uses unmanned drones to carry out strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s border region with Afghanistan.

However, US strikes have not taken place since 25 December 2013 in response to calls by Pakistan to halt strikes and enable peace negotiations.

Pakistan launched air strikes against Pakistan’s north-west Khyber region, killing at least 15 militants.

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Who are the Pakistani Taliban?

• With its roots in the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Taliban movement came to the fore in 2007 by unleashing a wave of violence

Getty ImagesFormer TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a drone strike

• Its leaders have traditionally been based in Pakistan’s tribal areas but it is really a loose affiliation of militant groups, some based in areas like Punjab and even Karachi

• The various Taliban groups have different attitudes to talks with the government – some analysts say this has led to divisions in the movement

• Collectively they are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis and have also co-ordinated assaults on numerous security targets

• Two former TTP leaders, Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud, as well as many senior commanders have been killed in US drone strikes

• It is unclear if current leader Maulana Fazlullah, who comes from outside the tribal belt, is even in Pakistan, but he has a reputation for ruthlessness

Media demand action over airport attack

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