US missiles kill four militants in NW Pakistan: officials

Missiles fired from US drones targeted a car and a compound in Pakistan's lawless tribal area on the Afghan border Friday, killing at least four militants, security officials said.

Pakistani journalists mourn a death of their colleague in Quetta, Pakistan on Friday, April 16, 2010.

The attack struck Tolkhel village in the suburbs of Miranshah, the main town in the restive North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

"At least four militants were killed after US drones fired missiles at a car and a nearby compound used by militants," a senior security official told AFP.

Another security official and a local administration official confirmed the drone attack and the death toll.

"Missiles hit a car carrying militants and as soon as other people rushed into help, more missiles were fired by drones," the official said. "The identity of the militants was not immediately clear."

US forces have been waging a covert drone war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked commanders in the nuclear-armed country's northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountainous areas outside direct government control.

Washington calls Pakistan's tribal belt the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous region in the world. Islamist militants in the area are believed to be fuelling the nearly nine-year insurgency in Afghanistan.

North Waziristan is a fortress of Al-Qaeda, Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and the affiliated Haqqani network set up by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and now effectively run by his ambitious son Sirajuddin.

US officials say drone strikes are a vital weapon in the war to defeat Al-Qaeda and reverse the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, where Washington is leading a major troop surge this year in a bid to end the costly war.

More than 870 people have been killed in more than 90 US strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, with a surge in the past year as President Barack Obama has put Pakistan at the heart of his fight against Al-Qaeda.

Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked groups have also been blamed for a wave of suicide and bomb attacks that have killed more than 3,200 people across Pakistan since 2007.

Pakistan claims to have made big gains against homegrown Taliban over the past year, following campaigns in the northwestern district of Swat and South Waziristan, but have yet to launch a major campaign in North Waziristan.

Source: AFP

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