Suspected US drone strike kills as many as 12 militants in Pakistan, local officials say


A Pakistani protester holds a burning US flag as they shout slogans during a protest in Multan on February 9, 2012 against the US drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal region.



US drones fired missiles at a militant commander's compound in northwest Pakistan today, killing 12 suspected insurgents, Reuters reports.

Reuters, the Associated Press and other news outlets cite unnamed Pakistani intelligence and security officials as the sources for their reports, though the AP listed the death toll as nine, and AFP as ten.

The conflict-prone tribal area of North Waziristan lies along the Afghan border and is known for being home to militants linked to both the Taliban and al Qaeda. The compound that was struck there today is said to belong to Sadiq Noor, a militant commander who is the "most important commander for Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a prominent Pakistani militant focused on fighting in Afghanistan," AP reported.

More from GlobalPost: Obama's hidden war: US intensifies drone attacks in Pakistan

Drone strikes in Pakistan have increased substantially since May, AFP reported. Though the strikes — a key tool of US counterterrorism efforts — are a source of serious tension between Pakistan and Washington, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that the US will not cut back its drone program in Pakistan. His comments followed the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi, al Qaeda's second-in-command, in an apparent drone strike in North Waziristan, according to Voice of America.

More from GlobalPost: US Defense Secretary Panetta defends Pakistan drone attacks

According to a Pew research survey released last month, the majority of individuals surveyed in 17 out of 21 countries worldwide oppose the US tactic of drone attacks.

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