MIR ALI, Pakistan – A suspected U.S. missile strike targeting a home and a speeding vehicle near the Afghan border killed 15 alleged militants early Tuesday, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The attack happened in the Bangi Dar village of North Waziristan, a tribal region that is a base for insurgents responsible for many of the attacks on U.S. and NATO forces just across the border in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has increasingly relied on missiles fired by unmanned drones — a program that is rarely officially acknowledged — to kill suspected Taliban and al-Qaida-linked fighters based in the northwest.
Tuesday's strike was the eighth this month. So far this year, nearly 100 such strikes have occurred in Pakistan, a major surge over previous years. Nearly all have hit North Waziristan, the mountainous border region where the Islamists run a virtual mini-state outside the Pakistani government's control
At least four missiles were fired before dawn Tuesday, two at the mud-brick house and two at the vehicle, two Pakistani intelligence officials said. Four of the slain were in the vehicle while at least 11 died in the flattened home.
The identity of the dead was not known, and agents were trying to get more details, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the policy of the intelligence agency.
U.S. authorities want Pakistan's military to launch an offensive in North Wazirstan, but Islamabad has resisted, saying it has its hands full with army operations against Islamist extremists trying to take control of territory elsewhere in the northwest.
Pakistan's government publicly denounces the missile attacks as a violation of the country's sovereignty. It has asked Washington to transfer the technology to Islamabad so that the Pakistani army could launch such strikes on its own.