20 die as missile attack destroys Afghan militant's home

A missile attack by a suspected US unmanned drone killed at least 20 people at the home of an Afghan border militant today.

It was unclear if the man, identified as Abu Kasha Iraqi, was among the victims.

Unmanned planes have fired at militant targets in Pakistan at least 16 times since mid-August, putting pressure on extremists accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan – and perhaps terror strikes in the West.

But the increase in their frequency is straining America’s seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems gnawing at the nuclear-armed country’s stability.

The United States rarely confirms or denies firing the missiles and the identities of those killed are also rarely made public. Locals frequently say civilians, sometimes women and children, are among the dead.

Two missiles were fired today into Mir Ali village in North Waziristan after drones had been flying overhead for several hours.

The first missile hit the house frequented by the militant, while seconds later another blew up a car parked close by.

Pakistan says the strikes are violations of its sovereignty and insists it is tackling the militants, pointing to a continuing military offensive just north of Waziristan that has killed 1,500 insurgents.

Earlier today, a suicide bomber attacked a police chief outside his house in the north-western city of Mardan, missing him but killing three other officers and five civilians, officials said.

The suicide attacker, who was on foot, hit the first vehicle in a convoy as it emerged from the police chief’s residence in the city, but the officer was in another car behind the gate.

There have been more than 90 suicide attacks on civilian, military and Western targets since July last year, killing nearly 1,200 people, according to military statistics.


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