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Missile strikes kill six in Pakistan

Associated Press / November 22, 2010

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MIR ALI, Pakistan — Four suspected US missiles struck a house in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, killing six people in an area near the Afghan border teeming with militants, intelligence officials said.

The strike, carried out by at least one unmanned aircraft, was part of the Obama administration’s intensified campaign to use drones to target militants who regularly stage attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The house destroyed in the strike was located in Khaddi village in North Waziristan, part of the semiautonomous tribal region in Pakistan that is almost entirely controlled by militants, said the intelligence officials.

The dead included three militants and three local tribesmen who were harboring them, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The United States has carried out more than 100 drone strikes in Pakistan this year, roughly twice the number in 2009, but refuses to publicly acknowledge the covert CIA attacks.

Almost all of this year’s strikes have been in North Waziristan, where the United States has repeatedly requested a Pakistani military offensive. Pakistan says it is already stretched thin.

But many analysts suspect Pakistan doesn’t want to cross Taliban militants with whom it has historical ties and who could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw.

Pakistani officials often criticize the US drone strikes, calling them a violation of the country’s sovereignty. But the Pakistani government allows drones to take off from bases in the country and is widely believed to provide intelligence for the attacks.

Their cooperation does have limits. Pakistan recently refused a US request seeking to expand the areas targeted by the drones because of domestic opposition to the strikes, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said Saturday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

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