13 killed in US drone strike in NW Pakistan

Xinhua, February 1, 2012

At least 13 people were killed when a U.S. drone launched three missile strikes in Orakzai region of Pakistan's northwest tribal belt on Wednesday, local media reported.

According to the report by local TV channel Geo, the attack was launched in wee hours in the morning when a U.S. drone fired three missiles at a militants' hideout in Darand Shekhan area of upper Orakzai agency, a militancy-hit tribal area where Pakistan army has been battling local and foreign Taliban militants for the past four months.

The report said that six foreigners were also among the killed militants and the dead bodies have been shifted to other areas of Orakzai after the drone attack.

In another attack which also happened on early Wednesday, Pakistan army killed 13 militants and destroyed five hideouts in the same area. Some media reports have said that this operation was carried out by a combination of Pakistani jets and U.S. drones.

Earlier on Tuesday, 10 soldiers were killed and 32 others injured in a check post attack by militants in neighboring Kurram Agency. Wednesday's operation against the militants might be retaliation by security forces.

Wednesday morning's drone strike came just one day after Foreign Office Spokesperson Abdul Basit stated that drone attacks are unacceptable to Pakistani government because they are unlawful and counterproductive.

This is the fourth strike of its kind in northwestern tribal area of Pakistan and the first of its kind in Orakzai agency since the beginning of 2012. To date, 27 people have been killed and several others injured in 11 missile strikes launched by U.S. drones.