US admits drone attacks intensified in Pakistan
US Central Command Chief, General David Petraeus, has acknowledged that there has been an increase in drone attacks on suspected militant targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in Pakistan, since the suicide attack at a US base in Khost Province of Afghanistan last week.
The seventh drone attack since the suicide bombing came on Saturday in North Waziristan, part of the tribal area and a region where Washington is pressing Pakistan to launch an offensive.
North Waziristan is a refuge for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, as well as for the Haqqani network, which is considered the most dangerous Afghan insurgent group.
The Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda all have claimed responsibility for the Khost bombing, which killed seven CIA operatives, including the chief of the base, an officer of Jordan's General Intelligence Directorate and the Afghan base security chief at the base.
Petraeus also commented on a video, which shows the triple agent suicide bomber of Jordanian descent, Balawi, sitting beside the former Pakistan Tehrik-i-Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Balawi claims that he blew himself up to avenge the death of Mehsud in a US drone attack.
"Baitullah Mehsud and his organisation carried out horrific attacks inside Pakistan, and that is what I think should concern the Pakistanis, as certainly it concerns us," The Dawn quoted Petraeus, as saying.
"There will be loss of innocent life in war, but we have got to make sure that we minimise it and that we try to avoid it just about at all costs," he added.
Petraeus further said that a relationship with Pakistan is 'absolutely critical' to the United States.
"We don't talk about the source of the explosions in western Pakistan. But certainly, many commentators have noted the considerable pressure that has been brought on the leadership, in particular, of al-Qaeda and also of some other important extremist elements there," Petraeus said.