Seven people were killed and three others were injured in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s northwest region, late on Friday, security officials said.
It was the first attack since Nawaz Sharif took office as Pakistan’s Prime Minister this week and second attack after the U.S. President Barack Obama announced his new drone policy.
According to initial reports, two missiles were fired from a drone into a compound, in a village near the regional capital Miranshah, in North Waziristan region, Reuters reported. Death toll could rise officials said according to the reports.
Miranshah, which lies in the country’s tribal northwest and borders Afghanistan is known to be a stronghold for Taliban and al Qaida-linked militants.
Friday’s attack follows a similar strike by the U.S. which killed the Pakistani Taliban’s second-in-command Waliur Rehman and six other militants in Chashma village in Miranshah, ten days ago. Rehman’s death was considered as a serious blow to the Pakistani Taliban that has been spearheading terrorist attacks in Pakistan from across the Afghanistan border.
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Pakistan is a key ally of the U.S. in fighting militancy in the region, but heavy civilian casualties from drone attacks in the country have led to massive protests and fueled anti-American sentiment among the local population.
Nonetheless, Friday’s drone attack may complicate already-fraught relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, as Sharif in his inaugural address to the Pakistani parliament, had demanded an immediate end to the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan’s territory. He has been maintaining that such attacks are a “challenge” to the sovereignty of his country.
The Pakistan’s foreign ministry also had expressed “serious concerns” over the Wednesday’s strike.
Pakistan’s government and political parties have urged the U.S. to stop its deadly drone strikes.
Obama in a major speech on counter-terrorism policy last month defended the drone attacks as legal and said they saved lives. However, he also laid out new guidelines that are intended to limit or reduce their use.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed up to 3,601 people since 2004, of which 884 were civilians.