October 5, 2014 / 5:47 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. drone strike kills senior Uzbek commander in Pakistan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN Pakistan (Reuters) - A suspected U.S. drone strike killed five militants in Pakistan’s tribal north-west on Sunday including a senior ethnic Uzbek commander, intelligence sources said.

The attack took place in the tribal South Waziristan region and was the first U.S. drone strike in Pakistan since late September.

Air strikes by unmanned U.S. aircraft, which are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, have become increasingly rare, particularly outside the North Waziristan region where the Pakistani army is fighting to flush out Islamist militants.

Intelligence sources told Reuters the latest strike killed five Uzbeks and wounded at least three people in the Shawal area of South Waziristan. The sources did not specify whether the three wounded people were also militants.

Ethnic Uzbeks and other foreign militants fight alongside the Pakistani Taliban but their exact number in Waziristan is not known.

Drones, which are operated remotely, are key to the U.S. policy of targeting militants holed up in inaccessible corners on the Pakistani-Afghan border. The then leader of the Pakistani Taliban was killed in one such attack in late 2013.

Reporting by Saud Mehsud Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Abigail Fielding-Smith

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