Thursday, December 17, 2009

US Military Drone Raid Kills Many Civilians in Pakistan

Thursday, December 17, 2009
20:31 Mecca time, 17:31 GMT

'Drone raid' kills many in Pakistan

Suspected US drone attacks have sparked public anger for inflicting civilian casualties

Suspected US missile strikes have killed at least 17 people in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani intelligence officials said missiles from the suspected US drone struck twice on Thursday in two nearby areas of the country's north west.

In the deadliest incident, ten missiles hit two compounds in the Ambarshaga area of the North Waziristan tribal region, killing 15 people, The Associated Press news agency reporting, citing officials.

Officials said at least seven of the dead were "foreign" fighters, a term Pakistani officials use to refer to al-Qaeda recruits operating in the tribal regions.

'Militant base'

Earlier, two people were killed in a missile strike on two houses close to the main district town of Miranshah.

"The American drone fired two missiles, killing two militants and badly damaging a house and an attached guest portion. A car was completely destroyed," the AFP news agency quoted a security official based in Miranshah as saying.

"The militants rented out this house and were using it as a base."

Unmanned drones are often the weapon of choice for the United States as it targets the Taliban and al-Qaeda in remote, rugged areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. But the US military has rarely confirmed the attacks.

The use of so-called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which allow the military to operate in highly dangerous areas, is expected to grow in the coming years with the US defence department expected to buy 700 next year alone.

But the long-distance, remote-controlled warfare has sparked public anger for inflicting heavy civilian casualties.

The US government has called on Islamabad to step up its efforts against Taliban- and al-Qaeda-linked fighters who cross over into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army recently completed an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan, which borders North Waziristan.

But Pakistani authorities say the military may soon pursue similar operations in other parts of the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.

Source: Agencies

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