A U.S. drone struck a militant compound in Pakistan's tribal belt for the second time in 12 hours on Thursday, killing at least 10 suspected members of the Haqqani network in a suddenly intense resurgence of the controversial CIA offensive in Pakistan.
The U.S. drone strikes, after an almost six-month lull in the operations while Pakistani officials tried and failed to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, come as Pakistan is mulling a new offensive of its own against militants in the northwestern tribal belt. But early news reports Thursday offered conflicting comments about whether the Pakistani authorities might have approved the drone strikes or were working in tandem with the Americans — a politically caustic idea in a country where the CIA program is widely hated.
Pakistani security officials said Thursday that a CIA drone had fired six missiles at the compound four miles north of Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan. The attack, which occurred just after 2 a.m. Thursday, targeted a building and an explosives-laden truck parked outside, they said.
Seven hours earlier, a U.S. attack on the same compound had killed at least four people. Initial reports from that attack described the dead as mostly ethnic Uzbek fighters, but the second strike appeared to have been aimed squarely at the Haqqani militants.
The Haqqani group, headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, has carried out numerous attacks on U.S. and Afghan security forces, as well as hotels and embassies in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
The Wednesday and Thursday attacks marked an emphatic resumption of the U.S. drone program in Pakistan's tribal belt following a nearly six-month hiatus. The last known CIA strike inside Pakistan took place Dec. 25.
U.S. drone strikes are deeply unpopular in Pakistan and usually met with vehement criticism from the government, which on Thursday issued a pro forma statement that condemned both attacks as a "violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Still, the strike received no mention from lawmakers during national assembly proceedings Thursday.