Suspected US drone kills 4 in NW Pakistan

By Rasool Dawar, AP

MIR ALI — A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at a vehicle and a house in a militant stronghold in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing four alleged insurgents, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Elsewhere in the northwest, gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying the former mayor of a town wracked by militancy, killing three people and wounding four others, including the mayor, police said.

The drone attack took place in Doga Mada Khel village in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s tribal area that is dominated by militants who regularly launch attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The identities of those killed in the strike were unknown, but the village is controlled by fighters loyal to the powerful militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

The U.S. has stepped up its use of drone strikes to target militants in North Waziristan given the reluctance of the Pakistani army to launch an offensive in the area.

The army says its troops are stretched too thin carrying out operations in other parts of the tribal regions. Many analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target militants in the area with whom it has historical ties and could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw.

The U.S. refuses to acknowledge the covert CIA drone strikes in Pakistan publicly, but officials have said privately that they have killed senior Taliban and al-Qaida commanders.

Militants throughout Pakistan’s northwest regularly attack government officials and security forces.

Gunmen attacked the former mayor of Hangu town, Amir Faisal, on Sunday as he was riding in a vehicle with his relatives, said police official Gul Jamal. Faisal’s father, nephew and driver were killed, and the mayor and three passers-by were wounded, he said.

The gunmen fled on motorcycles, but one of them was injured in a shoot-out with police and was captured, said Jamal.

Also Sunday, a roadside bomb exploded as police were examining a bullet-riddled body that had been dumped on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar. The blast injured three policemen and one civilian, said police official Abidur Rehman Khan.