A day after Pakistan demands end to US drone strikes, attack kills 6


Activists of the Pakistani fundamentalist Islamic party Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) shout slogans beside a burning effigy of CIA contractor Raymond Davis during a protest in Peshawar on March 18, 2011. Thousands of people took to the streets across Pakistan on March 18 to protest a US drone strike that killed 35 people.


A. Majeed

A day after Pakistan asked the U.S. to halt drone air strikes within its borders, two U.S. drone strikes have reportedly killed six suspected militants in the tribal South Waziristan region.

It was the first drone attack since the March 17 strikes that killed up to 44 people, including a large number of civilians, CNN reported.

In Wednesday's attack, a security official in South Waziristan told Reuters that two drones fired four missiles on a vehicle carrying militants. "We have confirmation of six [killed], but toll could be high," the official said.  

Such missile strikes have also inflammed anti-U.S. sentiments in Pakistan as they often caused civilian casualties. 

Washington has never openly acknowledged its role in carrying out drone attacks, but it is the only country operating in the region with the capability to carry out such strikes. A senior Pakistani intelligence official told CNN drone strikes carried out by Americans are now carried out autonomously by the CIA.

The official reportedly expressed dismay after Wednesday's strike. "What is this? A message (from the Americans) that it's business as usual, irrespective of what we ask of you? If it is, it's a crude way of getting your message across," he said, according to CNN. 

Pakistan also called Tuesday for the U.S. to cut the number of CIA agents and Special Operations forces operating there working within its borders.

The demand came as a direct result of the furor surrounding Raymond Davis, the CIA agent being held by Islamabad over the alleged murders of two young Pakistani men who he said were trying to rob him.

The case has exacerbated tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, allies in the fight against Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants in the region whose relationship is near collapse, according to the New York Times.

Pakistani opposition to the drone strikes, according to the Christian Science Monitor, rests on the fact that they are carried out unilaterally, without first consulting Pakistani intelligence. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence says it could help the U.S. avoid "collateral damage" – i.e. civilian deaths – if it was consulted.

However, according to RTT, defense analysts have dismissed the request as political grandstanding, pointing out that drone strikes are apparently taking place with the tacit support of Islamabad.

— Freya Petersen