A suspected US drone attack on Thursday killed 18 insurgents at a militant compound in Pakistan’s tribal region near its northwest border with Afghanistan.
The drone strike is the second US missile attack reported in as many days in the region, which is considered a stronghold of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, reports The Associated Free Press.
The attack is also the deadliest of its kind since a similar strike a little over a year ago killed 21 Taliban fighters in the same region. The drone strike comes as Pakistan reels over the attempted murder of a 14-year-old rights activist, who was shot by a group of men on her way home from school.
Khushal Khan, the local administration chief in Orakzai district, stated, “US drones fired four missiles on a militant compound and initial reports say 11 militants have died.” Khan added that most of those killed were Afghans.
Later on, Khan’s deputy, Rafiq Mohamand, later elevated the death toll at 18, adding, “Several militants were wounded who died later and the new death toll is 18.”
According to the BBC, the drone attacks by the US are incredibly unpopular among Pakistanis, who say that they violate the country’s sovereignty. Despite this, the government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has done nothing to stop the attacks.
One local official stated that four missiles were fired during Thursday’s drone attack. The US has long assured that their strikes by unmanned aircraft rarely claim civilian casualties, although many Pakistanis have said otherwise. One man, a cricketer-turned-politician, named Imran Khan, has said that drone attacks kill large numbers of civilians and also foster support for militants.