Al Qaeda militants killed in drone strike in Pakistan

by Reuters
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 18:18 GMT

ISLAMABAD, July 31 (Reuters) - A drone strike in Pakistan this week killed three al Qaeda operatives who ran a training camp in neighbouring Afghanistan to prepare militants for attacks including this week's jail break in Pakistan, a Taliban commander said on Wednesday.

About 30 militants and more than 200 other inmates escaped from the Dera Ismail Khan jail after a squad of highly trained Taliban fighters armed with grenade launchers and dressed as police overran the facility in the early hours of Tuesday.

A day earlier, a U.S. drone strike killed six militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan - a mountainous haven for militant groups aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda, according to local security officials.

The commander with the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters that those killed in the strike included three al Qaeda training experts who had crossed the border from Afghanistan to look at ways of setting up a similar camp on Pakistani territory.

The Taliban source identified the three as Abu Rashid from Saudi Arabia, Muhammed Ilyas Kuwaiti from Kuwait and Muhammed Sajid Yamani from Yemen.

Drone attacks are hard to verify and officials almost never comment on them on the record. Independent observers and journalists have almost no access to the tribal border areas where most of the strikes occur.

In its public statements, Pakistan condemns drone attacks as a violation of its sovereignty, saying they kill too many civilians and galvanise militants into staging more attacks.

The United States has been using drones in Pakistan since 2004 and has promised to scale back on the strikes. In the meantime missiles continue to hit their targets in North Waziristan almost on a weekly basis. (Writing by Maria Golovnina; editing by Mike Collett-White)

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