U.S. drone strike at militants in North Waziristan

U.S. drone strike  at militants in North Waziristan

(Reuters) – A U.S. drone strike killed at least five suspected militants near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, intelligence officials said, amid a rise in such attacks since after the military announced an anti-Taliban offensive.

Four intelligence officials said the strike killed between five and eight militants.

Six locals and two foreigners were killed in the strike in the district of Datta Khel in the mountainous region of North Waziristan, an intelligence official said.

 The death toll could not be independently confirmed because North Waziristan has been off limits to journalists since the military announced an anti-Taliban offensive there in June.

Even before the operation, the military and militants often prevented journalists from visiting the sites of drone strikes.

The United States has long urged Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban stronghold in North Waziristan. The Taliban use the region to prepare bombs, hold kidnap victims, stage public executions and as a launching pad for attacks on Afghan and NATO troops across the border.

The military says it has killed hundreds of militants in its North Waziristan operation, including a senior commander that the Taliban eulogized in a press release this weekend. But no bodies, photographs or names have been provided to the media.

The United States halted drone strikes for the first six months of the year as Pakistan attempted to negotiate peace with Taliban insurgents, who want to overthrow the civilian government and put in place a strict Islamic state.

But the talks failed and drone strikes resumed a few days before the military announced its offensive. Since then, there have been at least seven attacks, excluding the one reported on Wednesday, according to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, which tracks the strikes based on media reports.