US missile raid kills three in Pakistan

MIRANSHAH: A US drone attack killed at least three militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt on the Afghan border today, the second such strike in 24 hours, security officials said.

Pakistani officials said the US aircraft fired at least one missile into a vehicle as it left a village in North Waziristan, a stronghold of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Haqqani network fighting against US troops in Afghanistan.

The US drone programme targets Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the lawless northwest tribal belt, which Washington calls the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous region on earth.

“The US drone fired one missile, which hit a vehicle. According to our reports, three militants were killed,” a Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Local officials put the death toll at four, saying the drone targeted a vehicle carrying militants just as they were leaving Tabi Ghundi Kala village. “It was a drone attack. Two missiles were fired into the vehicle. Four militants were killed,” said a local security official.

The identities of the dead were not immediately clear, nor was it known if they were high-value targets.

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has been a prime target of the drone attacks and US and Pakistani officials increasingly believe he was killed in a January strike in the northwest, although the Taliban insist he is alive.

Today’s attack struck around 20 kilometres from the border with Khost, in a known stronghold of Afghan warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is reputed to control up to 2,000 fighters whom attack US troops in Afghanistan.