US drone attack kills three in Pakistan

Missiles fired by a suspected US drone aircraft have killed at least three militants in north-west Pakistan, security officials say.

The attack targeted a compound in Tapi Tolkhel village, 15km (nine miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, by the Afghan border.

The attack came a day after US officials said a top Afghan Taliban military commander had been captured.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured in Karachi by Pakistani intelligence.

A Pakistani security source told the BBC that Mullah Baradar was captured on 8 February.

While security officials have confirmed the arrest, Pakistan’s government and top US officials have refused to be drawn, aand the Taliban have denied it.

Mullah Baradar;s capture comes amid a major Nato-led offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Surge in strikes

Wednesday’s drone attack was the second attack on the village this week, officials said.

Two people were wounded in the attack, they said.

However, there was no information about the identity of those killed or wounded in the strike.

The regions of North and South Waziristan are known sanctuaries for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

They are frequently targeted by drone attacks, and there have been more than a dozen such strikes in 2010 alone.

The US has stepped up drone attacks in north-west Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed seven CIA agents across the border in Afghanistan in December.

More than 700 people have died in nearly 80 drone strikes since August 2008, with the frequency of strikes increased under President Barack Obama’s administration.

Pakistan has publicly criticised drone attacks, saying they fuel support for militants, but observers say the authorities privately condone the strikes.

The American military does not routinely confirm drone operations, but analysts say the US is the only force capable of deploying such aircraft in the region.


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