US missiles kill 10 suspected militants in Pakistan

Hillary Clinton warns of severe consequences for Pakistan if a new attack like the Times Square bomb is traced back to the country – AP

Suspected US missiles killed 10 people in a militant-controlled region close to the Afghan border today, the first such strike since an alleged Pakistani-trained extremist was linked to a bomb in Times Square.

Last week’s failed car bomb in Manhattan has added to pressure onPakistan to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban militants who have long had safe havens along the Afghan border. A Pakistan-American detained soon after the bomb attempt has allegedly told investigators he received explosives training in Waziristan.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, said Washington expects more co-operation from Pakistan in fighting terrorism and warned of “severe consequences” if an attack on US soil were traced back to the south Asian country.

The comments mark something of a change in America’s public stance towards Pakistan, which in recent months has been characterised by praise, not criticism. She made the remarks in an interview with CBS television’s 60 Minutes, which are due to be broadcast later .

North Waziristan has been the target of nearly all of the 30-odd other American attacks this year.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the two missiles hit the house of local tribesman Awal Gul in Enzer Kasa village of the Datta Khel area. Ten people were killed, among them an unknown number of militants who were staying at the home, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters.

It was not immediately clear whether Gul had any ties to militant groups.

Pakistan, a key US ally, officially protests against the strikes on its territory as violations of its sovereignty, but it is believed to aid them. The US rarely discusses the unmanned-drone strikes, which are part of a covert CIA programme.

In recent months, North Waziristan has become a new haven for Pakistani Taliban leaders who have fled a Pakistani army offensive in their previous stronghold, neighbouring South Waziristan.

The Pakistani Taliban, while linked to the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida, have primarily directed their attacks at targets inside Pakistan, making that militant group a priority for the country’s army. If it is found to be behind the Times Square plot, it would represent a significant show of strength for the organisation, which has never attacked outside South Asia before.

Despite US pressure, the Pakistani army has held off on waging an offensive against other militant networks based in North Waziristan because it does not want to antagonise powerful insurgent groups there that have so far attacked only targets in Afghanistan.

Earlier today Pakistani army helicopters pounded insurgent hide-outs in the Shana Garhi area of the Orakzai tribal region, killing at least eight militants, local official Jahanzeb Khan said.

Pakistan security forces are carrying out an operation against insurgents who escaped the military offensive in South Waziristan.