Rockets fired from a U.S. drone killed 15 people in northwest Pakistan on Monday, intelligence officials said, an attack likely to add to tensions between Washington and Islamabad amid a standoff over NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.
The strike, the third in three days, targeted a militant hideout in the Hasukhel village of the North Waziristan tribal region, officials said.
A senior Pakistani official based in Mir Ali told NBC News the drone had fired four missiles on a “big” compound in the village.
The United States and Pakistan are deadlocked in difficult negotiations for the re-opening of overland supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan. No breakthrough is in sight.
Islamabad blocked the routes in November 2011 after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by cross-border “friendly fire” from NATO aircraft.
The supply lines through Pakistan are considered vital to the planned withdrawal of most foreign combat troops from Afghanistan before the end of 2014.
The Pakistan government says the CIA drone campaign fuels anti-American sentiment in the country, and is counterproductive because of collateral damage.
U.S. officials, however, say such strikes by the remotely piloted aircraft are highly effective against militants and are an important weapon in war against militancy.