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US drone strike kills seven militants in NW Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: A U.S. drone attack on a militant compound in a restive Pakistani tribal area Saturday killed at least seven militants, security officials said.

The drone strike took place in the Shawal area of lawless North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, where the Pakistani military is battling Taliban militants.

"At least seven militants were killed in a drone attack," a senior security official told AFP.

Another security official in Peshawar confirmed the attack and casualties.

Local intelligence authorities said that the militants belonged to the Haqqani network, a feared militant group which targets foreign troops across the border in Afghanistan.

"An important meeting of militants was in progress at the compound when missiles launched by U.S. drones hit it," a local intelligence official told AFP.

North Waziristan is one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that border Afghanistan. It has been a hub for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants since the early 2000s.

The area is generally off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.

Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which groups have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan began a long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from North Waziristan last June after a bloody Taliban attack on Karachi airport sank faltering peace talks.

The army has intensified its offensive since the Taliban's massacre of 153 people, mostly children, in a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December.

 

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