Eight Taliban militants killed in US drone attack

Three missiles fired from predator drones struck a Taliban hideout, in Khaisur area of Mirali sub-division of North Waziristan Agency killing the Taliban militants, local officials said.

This was the second missile strike in 48-hours and the target was a compound housing militants of a local Taliban commander Halim Khan, linked to al-Qaeda.The official said a number of other militants were injured in the attack in which Khan escaped. Most of the dead were Taliban from Mehsud tribe.

Officials said, Halim Khan was a top commander of the Taliban warlord Hafiz Gul's force. Commander whose men are fighting American forces in Afghanistan is a close ally of top Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani.

The new drone attacks come as Washington Post reported that CIA has stepped up the tempo of strikes to assassinate Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Pakistan and is deploying precision smaller missiles to hunt them.

The missiles no bigger than a violin case and weighing about 16 kg are being used in Pakistan's restive tribal area bordering Afghanistan in the hope of minimising civilian casualties, 'Washington Post' reported.

The paper said once such missile was used by the CIA to target a house in Miran Shah the main town of the Waziristan tribal area, which hit the target with precision leading to the collapse of the two storeyed mud-brick house killing a top Al-Qaeda terrorist and nine other suspected militants.

'Washington Post' said, just over 20 civilians are known to have died in missile strikes since January 2009 and in that period CIA carried out more than 70 predator drone attacks that killed 400 terrorists.Reports of use of more smaller missiles than the Hellfire, came as the Post quoted a top CIA official describing the predator campaign as "the most aggressive operation in the history of the agency".

Top agency officials said the tempo of attacks had increased to two-three strikes a week, up roughly fourfold from the George Bush years.

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