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16 militants killed in NW Pak in US drone fire

PARACHINAR, Pakistan, Oct 12, 2012, AP: 0:55 IST
US drones fired four missiles at a compound of a Pakistani militant commander in a northwestern tribal region on Thursday, killing 16 militants, while a pair of bombings in another part of the country killed 10 civilians and three security personnel, officials said.

A government administrator in Orakzai region, Salim Khan, said 12 insurgents were also wounded in the drone attack near Biland village bordering the North Waziristan tribal region. Three Pakistani intelligence officials said the dead and wounded men were fighters loyal to militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is based in North Waziristan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters on the record. Although US authorities often target militant hideouts in the country’s North and South Waziristan tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, such strikes in other tribal regions like Orakzai are rare. The U.S. rarely discusses the unmanned drone strikes, which are part of a covert CIA program.

They also say the strikes kill innocent civilians, which the US denies. The Pakistani government protested to the US Embassy in Islamabad about Thursday’s drone strikes as well as another on Wednesday in which five people were killed. “The embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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