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Suspected US missiles kill 4: Pakistani officials

Last Updated: Saturday, January 9, 2010 - 10:50

Peshawar: Suspected US missiles killed four people in northwest Pakistan, the latest in a surge of such attacks since a suicide bomber staged a deadly assault on CIA employees just across the border in Afghanistan.
The attack on Friday was the sixth in just over a week in North Waziristan, an unusually intense bombardment that also follows repeated calls by the United States for Pakistan to do more against militants there blamed for attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The area is the stronghold of the Haqqani network, an Afghan Taliban group with links to al Qaeda. Its militants are responsible for cross-border attacks and could have played a role in the December 30 attack that killed seven CIA employees in Khost province, analysts believe.

The US does not usually comment on the strikes or their targets. It has carried out more than 50 of them since last year, most by unmanned planes believed operated by the CIA with the cooperation of Pakistani intelligence. They have become more common since the Obama administration took over.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials said a pair of missiles on Friday evening hit a house and a vehicle in a village near Miran Shah in North Waziristan. They said four people were killed and three injured, but did not identify them. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the information to the media.

The attacks since last week have killed 31 people, many of them militants, according to Pakistani officials. The area is impossible to visit without the consent of the militants, making independent reporting impossible.

Pakistan`s government publicly condemns the drone strikes as violations of its sovereignty, though it is thought to have a secret deal with Washington allowing them. One attack in August killed Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, which have been leading an insurgency against the Pakistani government from their sanctuary in the border region.

Pakistan`s Army has fought the militants in parts of the region over the last year, but has not taken action against the Haqqani network yet. Critics say this is because it wants to use the group as a future asset to influence Afghanistan and stay ahead of its regional rival, India, after the Americans withdraw. The Pakistan army say it lacks the resources to tackle all the militant groups in the area and must pick its enemies.

Growing violence in Pakistan has not been confined to the country`s volatile northwest.

On Saturday, police raided a house near the northwestern city of Peshawar to arrest a local militant commander identified only as Irfan. However, the man killed himself with a grenade, city police Chief Liaquat Ali said.

Four policemen were wounded in the explosion, he said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, January 9, 2010 - 10:50

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