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US missile attack kills 12 in South Waziristan

10 March, 2012

ISLAMABAD: An American missile attack killed 12 terrorists on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border on Friday, one of only a handful of such strikes this year, Pakistani officials said.

The missile struck in the Mandao district of South Waziristan, a rugged terrorist stronghold where the Pakistan Army has staged offensives in the past, the officials said, giving no further details.

The officials did not give their names because they were not authorised to speak to journalists. It took place hours after al Qaeda confirmed that a strike last month in North Waziristan killed one of its commanders a success in a CIA-led campaign, but a major source of tension plaguing the relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

The strikes, which began in earnest in 2008, have killed scores of terrorists, including foreign al Qaeda members involved in plotting attacks on the West. Their frequency increased in 2010, when they hit terrorists widely seen as being proxies of the Pakistan Army, causing friction between the US and Pakistan.

Reflecting the tensions, the number of attacks dropped in 2011, and they were cut back even more after November, when US aircraft killed 24 Pakistani troops on the Afghan border. Pakistan blocked US supply routes into Afghanistan in protest and said it was renegotiating its ties with Washington as a result. Faced with strong public anger over the drone attacks, Pakistani officials publicly condemn them as an unacceptable violation of sovereignty that boosts support for extremism.

Privately, the programme has long had some level of official sanction and even cooperation. The confirmation of the death of terrorist commander Badr Mansoor is significant, because he was believed to be behind many of the suicide attacks that have killed scores of Pakistani civilians in recent years.

It could be used by supporters of the campaign in Washington and Islamabad as an example of how drone attacks benefit both countries.


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