... for persecution is worse than slaughter..(part of 2:191)
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

At least 65 drone strikes, since August 2008, have killed around 625 people

Since August 2008, at least 65 such strikes have killed around 625 people, although it is difficult to confirm the precise identity of many of those who die given that the remote region is largely closed to outsiders.

A missile strike from a US drone aircraft killed three suspected militants in Pakistan's lawless northwest tribal belt early Tuesday, security and intelligence officials said.


The attack targeted a car in Aspalga village, about 12 kilometres (seven miles) southeast of Miranshah, the main town of the restive North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

"The three people killed in the attack were militants but as yet their identity is not confirmed," an intelligence official told AFP. "The moment the car left a house, it was hit by two missiles."

One security official and another intelligence official in Peshawar, the troubled capital of North West Frontier Province, also confirmed the strike, saying the missiles were fired from an unmanned US aircraft.

Three people were also injured in the attack, officials said.

North Waziristan neighbours South Waziristan, where Pakistan has been focusing its most ambitious offensive yet against homegrown Taliban militants, sending about 30,000 troops into the region in October 17.

Northwest Pakistan has seen a surge in the US strikes, which fan anti-Americanism in the nuclear-armed Muslim country, since US President Barack Obama took office and put the country on the frontline of the war on Al-Qaeda.

The New York Times on Friday reported that the The White House had authorised the CIA to expand the use of unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan to track down and strike suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda members.

Quoting unnamed sources, it said the authorisation coincided with Obama's announcement he was to send 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan to try to turn around an unpopular and costly war.

Islamabad is under increasing Western pressure to not only target Taliban groups attacking Pakistan, but also Al-Qaeda-linked fighters and the militants which cross over the border and target foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Washington and London have also pressed Pakistan to capture Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- believed to be in the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border area -- but the authorities deny he is on their soil.

The US military does not, as a rule, confirm individual drone attacks, which US officials say have killed a number of top-level militants. Islamabad publicly opposes the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty.

Since August 2008, at least 65 such strikes have killed around 625 people, although it is difficult to confirm the precise identity of many of those who die given that the remote region is largely closed to outsiders.

by Staff Writers | Miranshah, Pakistan (AFP) Dec 8, 2009