Published June 08, 2011
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A pair of U.S. missile strikes hit a vehicle and a compound Wednesday in a tribal region near the Afghan border, killing 23 suspected militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The two missile strikes were the fourth and fifth of the week, and the latest sign that the U.S. has no intention of abandoning the tactic despite public disapproval in Pakistan and a downturn in relations between Islamabad and Washington following the American raid that killed Usama bin Laden.
The strikes occurred within minutes of each other, the four Pakistani intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.
One missile hit a vehicle carrying five men, while the other struck a nearby compound, killing 18 people in the Shawal area, which lies along the border that separates the South and North Waziristan tribal regions.
Both regions are home to myriad militant groups, including several involved in attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.
The area hit Wednesday was on the North Waziristan side, in territory under the control of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a warlord involved in the Afghan fight.
North Waziristan is the usual target for U.S. missiles because it is home to more groups fighting in Afghanistan and because the Pakistani military has resisted U.S. appeals to launch an offensive there. But the strikes this week have mostly hit South Waziristan or along the border of the two regions.
Since 2008, the U.S. has increased its use of drone-fired missiles to take out Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan. Islamabad officially protests the strikes as violations of Pakistan's sovereignty, but it is widely believed to have secretly provided intelligence for some of them.
The May 2 U.S. raid that killed Usama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a garrison city in Pakistan's northwest, infuriated Pakistani lawmakers who saw the surprise raid as another violation of their sovereignty. Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution demanding the missile strikes end, but the U.S. has ignored it.