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U.S. drone strike in Pakistan kills 3

Dec. 26, 2013 - 08:57AM   |  
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ISLAMABAD — A suspected American drone fired two missiles at a home in a northwestern tribal region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, killing at least three foreign militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday.

The U.S. authorities often target Taliban, al-Qaida and their Pakistani supporters in the country’s tribal regions.

The latest strike took place just before midnight Wednesday in the village of Qutab Khel in North Waziristan and initial reports gathered from their agents in the field suggested the slain men were Arabs, the two intelligence officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The American drone program is extremely unpopular in Pakistan because it is perceived as killing innocent civilians, which the U.S. denies. Many in Pakistan also consider it an affront to their sovereignty but the U.S. has shown no indication it is willing to halt the program.

Angered over the strikes, supporters from cricket star-turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party in the northwest have been protesting along a main road used to truck NATO troop supplies in and out of Afghanistan for the past month, forcing the U.S. to stop shipments out of Afghanistan.

Khan has urged the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to force the U.S. to end drone attacks and block NATO supplies across the country.

On Thursday, about 150 supporters from Khan’s party on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta briefly blocked trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces heading toward Afghanistan, said a senior police official Abdul Rauf. But he said police ordered them to allow the trucks to proceed.

Trucks carrying NATO supplies pass through Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, before going through the Chaman border crossing — one of two routes used for the supplies. The other route is further north.

“We briefly stopped some of the NATO trucks this morning, but now we are just holding a peaceful rally against the drone attacks,” said Abdul Wali Shakir, a spokesman for the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which also attended the rally, demanding an end to the drone strikes.

Drone strikes have been a growing source of tension between Islamabad and Washington.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned the latest strike in a statement Thursday, saying such attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “There is an across-the-board consensus in Pakistan that these drone strikes must end,” it said.

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