Officials: Suspected U.S. drone strike kills 17 in Pakistan's tribal region

Pakistani demonstrators with a U.S. flag during protests in Multan January 3, 2013 against the drone attacks in tribal areas.

Story highlights

  • The strike occurred in the Babar Ziarat region between Pakistan's North and South Waziristan
  • Pakistani intelligence officials say the drone fired 10 missiles, killing 17 people
  • Last week, a suspected U.S. drone strike killed a Taliban commander

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed 17 people and wounded three Sunday in Pakistan's volatile tribal region, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The strike occurred in Babar Ziarat, which borders the Pakistani provinces of North and South Waziristan, near the Afghan border, the officials said.

Those killed and injured in the strike were believed to be militants, the officials said.

The attack follows two suspected U.S. drone strikes in the same area last week that killed 15 people, including a Taliban commander with ties to the Pakistani military.

Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, also known as Maulvi Nazir Wazir, was killed in a strike in South Waziristan, officials said.

Nazir was at odds with the Pakistani Taliban over a peace agreement he signed with the Pakistani government in 2007. As part of the deal, he refused to attack the Pakistani government or military targets, though he was believed to be behind a number of attacks that targeted the U.S. military.

Nazir narrowly escaped a suicide bomb attack in early December. After the attack, he warned the Mehsud tribe, which includes Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, to vacate South Waziristan or face consequences.

Also killed in that strike were two of Nazir's deputies, the officials said.

In recent years, the U.S. government has sharply stepped up the use of drone attacks in Pakistan's mostly ungoverned tribal region, widely believed to be a safe haven for militant groups fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan. U.S. officials say the drone strikes are an effective strategy against militant groups and insist civilian casualties are rare.