US drone strike kills five in northwest Pakistan

US drone strike kills five in northwest Pakistan
A Pakistani soldier stands near the debris of a house which was destroyed during a military operation against Taliban militants in the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan in this file photo.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A US drone strike on Monday killed at least five militants in a Pakistani tribal region where Islamabad launched a full-scale military offensive last year, security officials said.

The strike targeted a Taliban compound in North Waziristan, one of seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that border Afghanistan, and an area that has been a hub for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants since the early 2000s.

Recent drone attacks by the US have raised speculation that Washington and Islamabad are coordinating their military efforts.

Pakistan however officially denounces the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty.

"A US drone fired two missiles at a compound in Shahi Khel neighbourhood of Shawal, killing five terrorists," a senior security official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another security official confirmed the strike and casualties.

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 have been used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military launched a major offensive in the area in June and says it has killed more than 1,800 militants so far, with 126 soldiers having lost their lives.

The latest strikes came after Pakistan ramped up its anti-terror strategy in the wake of a December 16 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 150 people, 134 of them children.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced the establishment of military courts for terror-related cases in order to accelerate trials, and the premier has also lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for terrorism-related cases.

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