US Drone Kills 20 as Pakistan Military Offensive Continues
Pakistan military claims no connection between ongoing assault and US drone attacks in North Waziristan
Roughly 20 people were reportedly killed by a U.S. drone strike in a tribal region of Pakistan early Wednesday morning, the second such attack this week.
According to local sources as reported by Al Jazeera, four missiles fired by the drone targeted a vehicle in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan resulting in the destruction of the vehicle and an adjacent compound.
One official told AFP that as many as 20 people were killed in the attack though other reports note that the death toll may rise as people were still trapped in the rubble of the destroyed building. Drones were reportedly still flying over the scene as people continued to dig through the rubble.
The attack comes less than a week after six others were reportedly killed when CIA-operated drones destroyed a house and vehicle near Datta Khel on July 10.
Hours after the Wednesday strike, the Pakistan military said they killed an additional 35 “fleeing terrorists” in an aerial bombardment of the Shawal Valley area of North Waziristan.
The Pakistan military claims there is no connection between the Shawal Valley airstrikes the the U.S. drone attack. Publicly, the country condemns the drone strikes saying they often result in civilian casualties and violate state sovereignty.
More than 900,000 people have fled North Waziristan since the Pakistan military launched an air and ground assault on the tribal region on June 15. According to the military’s figures, more than 455 have been killed since the offensive began. The military claims all of those killed were “terrorists.”
The drone strike on Wednesday was the fifth such attack since a six-month hiatus by U.S. forces ended in June.