7 militants killed in US drone strike in Pakistan

7 militants killed in US drone strike in Pakistan

Seven militants were killed today when US drones targeted two vehicles in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region, the second such attack in the area in hours.

Two CIA-operated drones fired four missiles at two vehicles carrying militants in Shawal area of North Waziristan Agency early this morning, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels. Seven militants were killed instantly.

Six members of a Taliban faction led by commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur were killed yesterday in a drone strike on a compound and a vehicle in Shuwedar village of Shawal area.

The Shawal area is dominated by Bahadur, whose fighters often target US and other foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan had strongly protested yesterday's drone attack.

"Pakistan has consistently maintained that these attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law," Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said in a brief statement.

The US has been pushing Pakistan to act against Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements in North Waziristan. Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed Pakistan was preparing an operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan.

However, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said his forces will undertake an operation in North Waziristan "at a timeframe of our choosing and determined only by our political and military requirements". No operation will be launched due to "outside pressure", he said.

There have been four drone attacks since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramzan and two since Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam visited Washington earlier this month.

Islam had raised Pakistan's demand for ending drone attacks during his talks with US officials.

The Taliban recently banned polio vaccinations in North and South Waziristan, saying they would not be allowed as long as the US drone strikes continued.

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