The United States Wednesday (July 11) resumed drone strikes against targets in Pakistan with two successive strike in North Waziristan, killing 16 people.
According to media reports, the first attack took place on Wednesday night when the US drone fired six missiles that hit a vehicle and a compound in Dargah Mandi village in North Waziristan, around 10 kilometres west of the main town of Miramshah.
Later on early hours of Thursday, another US drone fired eight missiles in Dande Darpakhel area near North Waziristan that killed at least ten people while four others were wounded.
"Four of them were Uzbeks and two were Punjabi Taliban," said an intelligence official in Miramshah, referring to militants from Pakistan's central Punjab province who have taken shelter in North Waziristan.
An unnamed intelligence official in Miramshah told media outlets that six suspected militants were killed in the first attack. "Four of them were Uzbeks and two were Punjabi Taliban," said the intelligence official.
As usual the intelligence official said that the militants retrieved the bodies of the slain men and shifted them to an unknown location.
The last drone attack on Pakistani soil occurred on December 25, 2013, killing three people.
According to media reports the strikes had been temporarily halted at the request of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government, which began peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban last year.
The Uzbek Connection
The strikes came as Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) said that Uzbek militants had been deployed in a siege of the country's busiest airport that began Sunday night and ended late Monday (June 9) morning, killing 37 people including the 10 attackers.
Abdullah Bahar Mehsud, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander and spokesman for commander Shehryar Mehsud group that claims to represent the faction of Hakimullah Mehsud and having links with Uzbek militants, told the News on phone that the Karachi airport assault was a joint work of the Pakistani Taliban and Uzbek militants.
"It was our joint operation in which our Uzbek brothers played an important role. I can't tell you about the nature of support they provided us but in operations like the Karachi airport, one group provides fighters while another arranges finances for weapons and explosives," he said.
Abdullah Bahar said they were working with their Uzbek brothers and there would be more devastating attacks in the near future. "The government will forget the Karachi attack after we carry out other attacks on them," he threatened.
The IMU fighters reportedly migrated to Pakistan's tribal areas after being forced to flee Afghanistan following the US-led invasion in 2001.
Foreign militants, mostly Uzbeks and Chechens, are believed to have been involved in other major attacks in recent years, including on a Karachi naval base in 2011 and the military headquarters in 2009.
Around 60,000 residents have fled North Waziristan, which is one of seven tribal districts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, since late May fearing a long-awaited ground offensive could be imminent.
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