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Twin drone strikes kill 15 terrorists

14 March, 2012

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: US drone aircraft struck twice in the tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 15 suspected terrorists, including two senior terrorist commanders, security and intelligence officials said.

In the first strike, a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Birmal area of the South Waziristan tribal region, killing eight.

Among the dead were Shamsullah and Amir Hamza, senior commanders of a terrorist faction led by Maulvi Nazir, one of the most influential terrorist leaders in the region.

Seven suspected terrorists were killed in the second attack later in the day, when a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Sara Khawra area, which straddles the border between North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

Several terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, operate in Pakistan's semi-autonomous border regions, taking advantage of a porous border with Afghanistan to conduct cross-border attacks or plot violence elsewhere.

The usually unacknowledged Central Intelligence Agency's drone programme, an important element of the US counter-terrorism strategy in the region, appeared to have been halted after a NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November. The campaign, using remotely-piloted armed aircraft, resumed on January 10.

The use of drones is opposed by most Pakistani politicians and the public, who consider drone strikes violations of sovereignty with unacceptable civilian casualties.

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