PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A U.S. missile strike killed eight suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Friday, the final day of a year that had seen a major escalation in drone attacks targeting insurgents flowing into neighboring Afghanistan, the Associated Press said it was told by Pakistani intelligence officials.
Four missiles reportedly struck a convoy of militants traveling by car and by foot near the town of Ghulam Khan in the North Waziristan tribal area along the Afghan border.
It was the third day this week that missiles had struck North Waziristan, part of a ramped-up U.S. campaign to take out al-Qaida and Taliban fighters seeking sanctuary on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border. Thirty-five suspected militants were reportedly killed in missile attacks on Monday and Tuesday.
More than 110 such strikes, carried out by drones, have been launched this year — more than double last year's total. Nearly all have hit North Waziristan, a region that hosts several militant groups battling U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, including the powerful Haqqani network.
Also Friday, a bomb blew up outside a district police headquarters in the town of Lakki Marwat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders North Waziristan, killing a bystander and wounding two other people. A second bomb targeting a NATO supply convoy in the border town of Chaman set a fuel tanker on fire and wounded a passer-by, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban released 23 tribesmen it had kidnapped and held captive for three weeks.
Pakistan Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said the tribesmen were abducted for meeting with the Pakistani army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at a gathering in the South Waziristan tribal district in early December. Tariq said they were released after being tried by a Taliban court and being submerged in cold water as punishment.