Pakistan: Suspected US drone strike kills 4 in North Waziristan

A model of a military drone casts a shadow on the ground during a protest Oct. 6, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Credit: Chip Somodevilla

A US drone fired on a house in western Pakistan early today, according to local officials. At least four people were killed, three of them "Arab fighters," the Associated Press reported.

According to Reuters, the strike hit the outskirts of the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan.

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The US has not made any official comment, but an unnamed source in Washington confirmed that a US drone had fired on a target in Pakistan. No "well-known" rebels were believed to have been hit, the source told Reuters.

If confirmed, the strike would be the first since the NATO helicopter raid on the Afghan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, the BBC said.

The incident prompted Pakistan to close NATO supply routes through its territory and demand that the US vacate its Shamsi air base, which is said to be where the CIA launches drone attacks on the tribal belt between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US complied with the order, but is said to have built up drone-launching capacity elsewhere.

In any case, there had been an unusual lull in drone strikes since the Nov. 26 incident. From Reuters:

US officials denied that the drop-off in lethal drone strikes was part of a deliberate moratorium on such flights linked to the political and diplomatic uproar over the air strike. Officials maintained that lethal drone strikes were based on the availability of targeting intelligence, and implied that such intelligence recently had been in short supply.

For whatever reason, the latest lethal drone strike appears to demonstrate that if there was any kind of moratorium on such attacks, it has now been lifted.

Media reports had indicated that drone strikes were soon to resume, according to an article Monday on Pakistani site Online News. Asked about the rumors, Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said:

"We have always expressed our serious reservations and concerns over drone strikes."

The spokesman further said that Pakistan can never condone violation of its sovereignty. He made it clear that any such move would be opposed.

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