First U.S. drone attack in Pakistan in weeks kills 7

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:55am EST
 
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By Saud Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - A U.S. drone strike killed at least seven people on Monday in a tribal region along Pakistan's western border, local officials said, the first such attack in a month as a diplomatic feud strains U.S.-Pakistani ties.

At least four missiles were fired from the unmanned aircraft at a suspected militant training center in Azam Warsak, just west of Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal agency, intelligence officials in South Waziristan said.

"According to initial reports there were foreigners among the dead," one of the officials said.

A second official said the foreign nationals killed included three people from Turkmenistan and two Arab nationals.

It is the first time since January 23 that intelligence officials have reported a U.S. drone attack, marking a resumption of a campaign that has become the centerpiece of U.S. efforts to halt militants launching attacks on its soldiers in Afghanistan.

Many analysts believe Washington halted the attacks for weeks to avoid further inflaming anti-American fury in Pakistan just as it pressures Islamabad to release Raymond Davis, a U.S.consulate employee imprisoned after shooting two Pakistanis last month in what he said was an attempted robbery.

Others speculate the pause was due to poor weather or an inability to find reliable targets as militants hunt down Pakistanis they believe are feeding intelligence information.

Washington, which provides Pakistan with billions of dollars a year in military and civilian aid, is leaning hard on the government of President Asif Ali Zardari to release Davis on grounds the U.S. national is shielded by diplomatic immunity.   Continued...