ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s military announced that a locally developed drone has carried out its first missile strike, killing at least three “high-profile” militants near the Afghan border.
Military spokesman Major-General Asim Bajwa said in a statement the unmanned aircraft named Burraq attacked what he called “a terrorist compound” Monday in the volatile Shawal valley of North Waziristan, a remote tribal district.
No other details have been made available about those killed or whether any civilians were among the victims. The area is not accessible for reporters and aid workers.
North Waziristan, Pakistan.North Waziristan, Pakistan.
Parts of the Waziristan region are still believed to be serving as hideouts for militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban and fugitive commanders of the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.
The area has been the focus for nearly a decade of a U.S. drone campaign to eliminate extremist bases from the Pakistani border region, and to defuse the threat they pose to coalition and Afghan forces across the border.
Hundreds of militants linked to the al-Qaida and Haqqani network of Afghan insurgents have died in these missile strikes.
But Pakistan has consistently opposed and condemned the unilateral CIA-run drone operation as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Officials in Islamabad have also insisted that civilian casualties in these attacks are undermining support for the national counterterrorism efforts. International human rights groups are also opposed to use of drones, citing civilian deaths.
A U.S. drone attack against a suspected militant hideout earlier this year in North Waziristan killed, among others, senior American aid worker Warren Weinstein and an Italian colleague who were being held hostage there by al-Qaida.
The deaths refueled questions about accuracy of the U.S. drone mission and civilian deaths it was causing.
The latest U.S. drone attack happened in North Waziristan about a week ago in which at least six local and foreign suspected militants were reported killed.
However, the attacks have declined, with only 13 drone strikes so far this year, according to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism. It reported 25 drone attacks in Pakistan in 2014.