Pakistan says dozens killed in US drone strikes

At least 30 militants were killed in less than 12 hours in a hail of missile strikes by suspected US drone aircraft in Pakistan’s north-west region on the Afghan border, a local intelligence official said on Tuesday.

On Monday night, drones fired missiles hitting a vehicle used by militants in North Waziristan, killing six insurgents. Later more missiles were fired, killing 19 in a nearby militant compound, the official said.

The unmanned planes struck again early on Tuesday in neighbouring South Waziristan region, killing at least five insurgents in a vehicle.

The United States has stepped up missile attacks by remotely-piloted drones on militant sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the border since the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US forces in May.

More than 90 militants have been killed since June in drone attacks, according to Reuters figures based on statements from local intelligence officials.

Pakistan has regularly complained about the US drone strikes, saying they complicate Islamabad’s efforts to win the support of the Pakistani people and isolate the militants in border regions.

Pakistan-US relations have steadily declined since 2010, with ties severely weakened following the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in January, and the US raid that killed Bin Laden in May, which Pakistan says was a breach of its sovereignty.

The United States this week said it was holding off $800-million in military aid to Pakistan in a show of displeasure over Pakistan’s cutback of US military trainers, limits on visas for US personnel and other bilateral irritants. – Reuters

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