12 June-2014, DPA: The first US drone strike in almost six months killed six Islamist militants in Pakistan on Wednesday, officials said, as an Uzbek group claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on the country’s busiest international airport this week. The drone attack, the first in militant tribal areas since December 25 last year, targeted a compound and a vehicle in Ghulam Khan area of North Waziristan region near Afghan border.
“Initial information from the area suggests six militants – four Uzbeks and two members of the Pakistani Taliban – were killed,” a security official said, seeking anonymity. The attack occurred hours after the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) – a group of Central Asian militants affiliated with al-Qaida – said its fighters staged a siege of Karachi airport on Sunday night. “It was a martyrdom-seeking mission by our brave Mujahideen,” the group said in a video posted on Jihadi websites.
The IMU posted a picture of ten militants wearing black turbans and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, claiming they carried out the attack blow up American drone aircrafts parked secretly at the airport. “This was to avenge the Pakistani military’s operations in Waziristan,” the IMU statement read.
The militants from Central Asian Republics and China’s Turkic Muslim communities have reportedly been based in Pakistan’s tribal belt since they were driven out of Afghanistan by international forces in 2001. They are thought to be ruthless fighters, though there exact strength remains a mystery. Pakistani officials investigating the airport attack that killed 30 civilians and members of security agencies said they had suspicion most of the attackers were Uzbek or of Central Asian origin.
The resumption of drone attacks in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas appeared to be a signal that authorities in Islamabad have given up on a faltering peace process with Islamist militants.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked US President Barack Obama in a visit to Washington last year to halt drone campaign as his government launched peace talks with the Taliban. But his efforts ended without making any significant headway and the audacious raid of Karachi airport shattered any remaining prospects of a peace deal. “It looks like Sharif and his team are running out of patience,” said Fida Khan, a security expert based in north-western Peshawar city.
There were reports in the past that US drone strikes took place with the tacit approval of Pakistan government and powerful military. Both deny this.