PESHAWAR, Pakistan — At least 10 more people, all suspected to be foreign militants, were killed in a second drone strike early Thursday in Pakistan's troubled North Waziristan tribal region.
The attack came in the same village, Tabi Tolkhel, only a few hours after six suspected militants were killed in what government officials called the first U.S. drone strike in the region since Christmas Day.
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Pakistani officials and residents in Miranshah, the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan, said the drone again hit a mini-truck and a nearby mud-built house, this time killing 10 suspected militants.
Residents also said the second attack, which took place before dawn, hit a house where a large quantity of explosives was reportedly dumped.
"I never heard such a huge and deafening blast," said Javed Khan of Miranshah. "It jolted the entire tribal region, and everybody thought [the] house was targeted."
Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC News the militants were shifting an explosives-laden mini-truck when it came under the drone strike.
They said those killed belonged to the Haqqani network — a militant faction of the Afghan Taliban that claimed responsibility for having kidnapped U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009 and exchanged him for five high-profile Taliban commanders last week.
The U.S. curtailed its controversial drone strikes in Pakistan after the government started peace negotiations with the local Taliban in January.
But with the talks apparently failing amid this week's deadly Taliban attack on the Karachi airport, the Pakistani government is said to be preparing a new military operation — leading many residents to flee their homes and villages in North Waziristan for safer places in more densely populated cities.
First published June 11 2014, 8:37 PM
Mushtaq Yusufzai is a journalist based in Peshawar, Pakistan. Originally from Mardan in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, he began his journalism career in 1999 as a health reporter on the News, a leading English-language daily.
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But his professional life was transformed by the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the subsequent U.S.-led ousting of the hardline Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
He was always interested in reporting on Pakistan's tribal areas because he found them to be the most challenging.
He has roved Pakistanâ€™s dangerous tribal belt in the course of his reporting for NBC News since 2004, including mountainous Waziristan. He has risked life and limb â€“ and endured several kidnappings â€“ to get the story from the Taliban and warlords in Pakistanâ€™s dangerous tribal region.
He was the winner of the inaugural Kate Webb award, set up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) to honor the life and career of the legendary foreign correspondent, in 2008.
In 2009, Yusufzai was among the four journalists, out of 400 worldwide, selected for the Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship and invited to New York to attend U.N. General Assembly.
The World Health Organization in 2010 and 2011 awarded him with gold medals for investigative journalism in health related to polio. And in 2012, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department gave him a gold medal for best health reporting related to polio in the region.