Islamabad, Jan 24 (ANI): Twenty people were killed and several others were injured in two different missile strikes by US drones in North and South Waziristan tribal agencies, the first such attacks after the takeover by new President Barack Obama, signalling that one key element of the Bush Administration's war on terror remains unchanged.
Remotely piloted Predator drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency have carried out more than 30 missile attacks since last summer against members of al Qaeda and other terrorism suspects deep in their hideouts on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, The New York Times reported.US officials in Washington said there were no immediate signs that the strikes on Friday had killed any senior Qaeda leaders. They said the attacks had dispelled for the moment any notion that Obama would rein in the Predator attacks.
Bruce Riedel, a specialist on al Qaeda at the Brookings Institution, said the drone strikes show that the new Obama Administration would continue the Bush policy of targeting militants inside Pakistan's Tribal Areas.
"Obama was very clear in the campaign that going after al Qaeda was a top priority," The Washington Times quoted Riedel, as saying.Obama and his top national security aides are likely in the coming days to review other counter-terrorism measures put in place by the Bush Administration, US officials said.
These include orders former President George W Bush secretly approved in July that for the first time allowed American Special Operations forces to carry out ground raids in Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani Government.
The first missile on Friday struck a village known as Mir Ali in North Waziristan late in the afternoon. In a statement, Pakistani government officials said the attack destroyed the house of a man identified as Khalil Dawar and killed eight people. The statement said militants had surrounded the area and retrieved the bodies.
A senior Pakistani security official said four of those killed were Arabs. Pakistani intelligence officials often take the presence of foreign fighters as an indication of Qaeda involvement, The NYT reported.
In the second attack, missiles struck a house near the village of Wana in South Waziristan, killing seven people, according to local accounts and Pakistani news reports. The reports said three of the dead were children.
American officials believe that the drone strikes have killed a number of suspected militants along the frontier since last year, including a senior Qaeda operative who was killed on January 1. (ANI)