BANNU- A U.S. drone strike in volatile northwestern Pakistan killed 11 militants today, a Taliban commander and security officials said, as Pakistani security forces press ahead with an offensive in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border.
Two missiles slammed into a house in the village of Doga Madakhel of the Datta Khel area in the border region of North Waziristan, intelligence officials said.
Drone strikes in Pakistan resumed in June after a hiatus of six months, during which the Pakistani government pursued peace talks with the Taliban. Pakistan announced an anti-Taliban offensive in North Waziristan within days of the resumption.
The United States has long urged Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban stronghold in remote, mountainous North Waziristan. The Taliban use the region to prepare bombs, hold kidnap victims, stage public executions, and as a launching pad for attacks on Afghan and NATO troops across the border.
The military ordered the entire civilian population of North Waziristan to leave before launching the ground offensive but residents said most of the militants also moved out.
U.S. lawmakers have said Pakistan will have to prove it is cracking down on the Haqqanis or have $300 million sliced off its military aid package.
Datta Khel is controlled by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a Taliban commander who is considered friendly to Pakistani forces but supports attacks in Afghanistan. He announced a ceasefire against Pakistani troops after they said they would clear North Waziristan of Taliban fighters.
Before Saturday's attack, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks drone strikes using media reports, said at least 35 people had been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since they restarted in June.