HANGU: Eighteen militants were killed and 13 others sustained injuries when a US drone hit the hideout of a militant commander in Bulandkhel area in Orakzai Agency, sources said on Thursday.
The sources said the CIA-operated spy plane fired four missiles on the house of Commander Mufti Shakirullah.He was reportedly affiliated with North Waziristan’s top local Taliban commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur. However, another report said he and his men were linked to the Haqqani network.
Political Agent Orakzai Agency Khushal Khan earlier said that 10 militants, all Afghans, were killed when the drone hit the hideout of a commander belonging to the Gul Bahadur group. He said the eight-room structure was destroyed in the attack.
The drone was hovering over the area for half an hour after the missile strike and it delayed the rescue work as people feared another attack. Locals reached the scene to retrieve the bodies from the rubble only after the drone disappeared.
The sources said Mufti Shakirullah was also killed in the attack but independent sources could not confirm his death.
The sources said some of the injured militants included Mehmood, Khitab, Hafiz Saadi, Khalil Khan, Siddique and Muhammad Irfan while two of the dead were identified as Muhammad Zahir and Younas.The injured were taken to the Civil Hospital in Thall tehsil in Hangu district.
It was the second drone attack in Orakzai Agency. Ten militants and two women were killed and 13 militants were injured when a US drone fired two missiles on the local Taliban chief’s headquarters in Khadezai area in April 2009.
APP adds from Islamabad: A Foreign Office spokesman has said that protest had been lodged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the US embassy here on two drone strikes inside Pakistani territory within 24 hours.
The spokesman, in a statement, said the US embassy was informed that the drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. These attacks are unacceptable to Pakistan, he added.