The US and Pakistan are claiming to have dealt a blow to al Qaeda-linked militants after at least five people were killed in a missile strike.
An unmanned aircraft fired four missiles at what was said to be a militants’ camp in the South Waziristan region. Pakistani security officials said it came after a joint intelligence operation. An arms dump was also hit.
The two countries have stepped up an offensive in the area recently. It came as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was paying a visit to neighbouring Afghanistan during which he apologised for recent civilian deaths in military operations. “I think the key for us is, on those rare occasions when we do make a mistake, when there is an error, is to apologise quickly, to compensate the victims quickly and then carry out the investigation. That’s the approach we have had in Iraq and I think we need to move to that here,” said Gates.
Anger is growing in Afghanistan over a rise in civilian casualties in recent weeks. It has strained relations between President Hamid Karzai’s government and its Western backers.