SHAFAQNA – A U.S. drone killed five suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, a militant and a government official said, as the intensity of air strikes grew as part of an anti-Taliban offensive by the Pakistani military.
The drone strike hit a house in Datta Khel, near the Afghan border, which was used by militants, said a militant in the area. Those killed were Pakistani fighters, the militant said.
“The Government of Pakistan condemns the drone strike that took place in the early hours of Wednesday, 26 November 2014 at Garga, north of Shawal in North Waziristan Agency,” the government said in a statement.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks drone strikes using media reports, says there have been 20 strikes so far this year.
The United States says it targets militants in the drone strikes, but does not release details about individual strikes. Some of them have killed civilians, although the majority of the dead are suspected militants.
Pakistan usually protests about the drone strikes, saying they are an infringement of its sovereignty. But many say the military has given its tacit acceptance, and point to the fact that were halted in Pakistan for six months earlier this year while the government tried to negotiate peace with the Taliban.
The attempt failed and the strikes resumed days before the military launched an anti-Taliban offensive in the border region of North Waziristan on June 15.
There has been little ground fighting in the offensive so far. Most of the casualties the military has reported come from air raids. On Tuesday, the military said it had killed 20 militants in aerial bombing.
The region is closed to journalists and most civilians were ordered to leave their homes before the fighting started, making it difficult to get independent witness accounts of the situation.