PAKISTAN (MCT) — A U.S. drone missile strike killed four suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, ending a six-week hiatus in such attacks imposed by Washington following American airstrikes late last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and severely marred relations between the two nations.
Pakistani intelligence sources said the missile strike hit a three-room house less than a mile from the town of Miram Shah in North Waziristan, a tribal region along the Afghan border. The area is a major stronghold for a variety of Islamist militant groups, including al-Qaida, the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network, the latter regarded by U.S. officials as the biggest threat to their troops in Afghanistan.
The sources said four suspected militants, all non-Pakistanis, were killed in the strike. “The bodies were completely burned beyond recognition,” said a local tribesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It remained unclear how Pakistan would react, or whether Islamabad tacitly approved the strike. Many Pakistanis denounce the U.S. drone missile campaign as a blatant violation of their country’s sovereignty and contend that the strikes kill many more civilians than militants.
The Pakistani government has a history of publicly condemning the drone campaign while quietly acquiescing to its continuation. However, the U.S. airstrikes that mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border Nov. 26 incensed the Pakistani military and government, which viewed the attack as deliberate and unprovoked.
In retaliation for the airstrikes, Islamabad shut down the use of Pakistan as a transit country for NATO shipments bound for Western forces in Afghanistan.
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