February 17, 2010 / 8:45 AM / 9 years ago

Three killed in U.S. missile strike in Pakistan

(For full coverage of Pakistan, click on [ID:nAFPAK]) (Adds detail, background)

By Haji Mujtaba

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Feb 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. drone aircraft fired a missile into Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing at least three militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The attack came as U.S. forces spearhead one of NATO's biggest offensives against the Taliban in Afghanistan in an early test of U.S. President Barack Obama's troop surge policy.

The drone targeted a militant compound in the village of Tapi, about 15 km (9 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in the region, which is a hotbed of Taliban and al Qaeda militants. It was the second attack on the village this week.

There was no information about the identity of those killed or of three men wounded in the strike, they said.

As well as taking on the Taliban in Afghanistan, the United States is keen to eradicate their sanctuaries in lawless ethnic Pashtun tribal lands on the Pakistani side of the border.

Underscoring the militant presence in Pakistan, U.S. and Pakistani officials said on Tuesday the Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, had been captured in Pakistan in a joint raid by Pakistani and U.S. spy agencies.

U.S. ally Pakistan objects to the drone strikes, saying they are a violation of its sovereignty and fuel anti-U.S. feeling which complicates Pakistan's efforts against militancy.

The Pakistani army has made gains against Pakistani Taliban fighters battling the state over the past 10 months but it has ruled out a major offensive against Afghan Taliban factions on its soil, saying its forces are already stretched.

The United States has carried out 14 drone strikes in Pakistan this year, according to a Reuters tally, compared with 51 last year and 32 in 2008. (Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel) (For full coverage of Pakistan and Afghanistan, click on [ID:nAFPAK] (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: here)






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