ISLAMABAD – A suspected U.S. drone strike killed one alleged militant in the Pakistan's northwest tribal region, intelligence officials said Friday, the latest indication that Washington has no intention of throttling back the program despite increasing tension with Pakistan over the attacks.
The overnight strike targeted a house in Qazi Kot village in the North Waziristan tribal area, said Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. A suspected member of the Punjabi branch of the Pakistani Taliban was killed, they said.
The attack came a little over a day after a Pakistani political party revealed what it said was the name of the CIA's top spy in the country and called for him and the head of the agency to be tried for murder for a recent drone strike. The party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has also been trying to block trucks carrying NATO troop supplies to and from neighboring Afghanistan to protest drone attacks.
Pakistan's federal government has also been critical of the strikes, calling them a violation of the country's sovereignty. But the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has shown little interest in sparking a crisis with the U.S. over drones.
The issue is also clouded by the fact that Pakistan's government and military is known to have supported at least some of the strikes in the past, and suspicion lingers that some level of complicity continues -- although Islamabad denies the allegation.
The U.S. rarely discusses the covert CIA drone program in Pakistan in public. But U.S. officials have made clear that Washington views the attacks as a vital tool to target Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan who are outside the reach of American soldiers.
The CIA has not confirmed whether the name revealed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Wednesday is actually the agency's station chief in Islamabad. It was the second time in recent years that Pakistanis opposed to drone strikes have claimed to reveal the identity of the top CIA spy in the country.
In December 2010, the CIA pulled its top spy out of Pakistan after a lawsuit accused him of killing civilians in drone strikes. The Pakistani lawsuit listed a name lawyers said was the station chief, but the AP learned at the time it was not correct. Nevertheless, the CIA pulled the station chief out of the country after militants threatened to kill him.