MIRANSHAH: Twelve persons were killed and six others critically injured in a US drone attack on the Shudar village in the remote Shawal Valley, North Waziristan Agency, on Saturday as the tribesmen celebrated Eidul Fitr.
Tribal sources said the CIA-operated drone fired four missiles. Two of them hit a house located in the forest-covered mountainous Shawal Valley while two others hit vehicles parked outside a residence where a group of men had gathered for lunch in connection with Eid.
Four US spy planes were seen flying over the area during the missile attack. There was no way to ascertain the identity of the victims as the Shawal Valley is one of the remotest areas of the restive tribal region.
The bodies of the deceased were brought to Miranshah, NWA headquarters, in the evening for burial. A doctor, seeking anonymity, said the injured persons suffered multiple injuries and were in serious condition.
There have been reports of presence of militants in the Shawal Valley and unmanned aircraft have on several occasions launched drone strikes in the valley.
The drone attack took place at a time when the tribal people in North Waziristan were celebrating Eidul Fitr ahead of the rest of Pakistan. The religious scholars in Mir Ali area, as part of a non-official moon-sighting committee, declared that Eid would be celebrated on Saturday after ascertaining the evidence given by six men, who claimed they had sighted the moon. The people had been fasting for the last 29 days as they began Ramazan one day ahead of the rest of Pakistan.
Tribal sources said they had noted a sharp increase in the number of US drones flying over various villages in North Waziristan during the past two days.
The tribesmen said they offered the Eidul Fitr prayers amid fears as drones were hovering over the area. Most of the people avoided offering the Eid prayers in big gatherings and offered them in village mosques.
APP adds: The Foreign Office has strongly protested the drone attack in the North Waziristan Agency on Saturday morning. In a statement issued here, a Foreign Office spokesman said Pakistan had consistently maintained that these attacks were a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and were in contravention of international laws.