US drone missile attack kills five Taliban in Pakistan

The US drone strike took place in Datta Khel in North Waziristan, where Pakistani troops have been carrying out a major operation against local and foreign militants since June.

A U.S. drone fired two missiles at militant hideout in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least five Taliban fighters, two security officials said.

In a separate operation, the military said Pakistani security forces killed five "terrorists" on the outskirts of Peshawar, where the Pakistani Taliban carried out a school massacre earlier this week, killing 148 people, mainly children.

Many Pakistanis saw the massacre as an incomparable horror and called for the government to retaliate. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the school attack, saying it was justified to inflict pain on the Pakistani military in retribution for attacks that had killed Taliban fighters’ children and family members.

The attack shocked the nation and prompted a massive Pakistani military response Thursday and Friday in the tribal regions along the Afghan border, longtime strongholds of both foreign and local militants. The latest Pakistani air strikes and ground operations in the Khyber region -- where the school attack is believed to have emanated -- have killed around 200 militants.

The drone strike took place in the town of Datta Khel in North Waziristan, where Pakistani troops have been carrying out a major operation against local and foreign militants since June, the officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said the men killed in the drone strike fought under local Pakistani Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur. It was not immediately clear if the drone strike was connected to the school massacre.

U.S. officials rarely if ever comment on the covert drone program, which has eliminated several top militants but has also resulted in civilian casualties, making it extremely unpopular among Pakistanis.

Also on Saturday, a security official and a police officer were killed during a shootout with militants in Peshawar, police officer Ijaz Ahmed said. He said two militants were killed.

The latest Pakistani military operations come as a debate rages in Pakistan over "bad Taliban” and “good Taliban," the latter being seen as cooperative regarding Pakistani aims and interests in projecting power and influence in Afghanistan. 

Amid the public outcry over the massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared "there is no difference between good Taliban and bad Taliban" and vowed to redouble military efforts "to clean this region of terrorism," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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