Saturday, October 2, 2010

21 drone attacks in Sept., 18 militants killed in last 2

The United States has widened pilotless drone aircraft missile strikes against al Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan's northwest, with 21 attacks in September alone, the highest number in a single month on record.

Angered by repeated incursions by NATO helicopters over the past week, Pakistan blocked a supply route for coalition troops in Afghanistan after one such strike killed three Pakistani soldiers on Thursday in the northwestern Kurram region.

Pakistan is a crucial ally for the United States in its efforts to pacify Afghanistan, but analysts say border incursions and disruptions in NATO supplies underline growing tensions in the relationship.

On Saturday, two drone attacks within hours of each other killed 18 militants in Datta Khel town in North Waziristan tribal region along the Afghan border, intelligence officials said.

"In the first attack two missiles were fired at a house while in the second attack four missiles targeted a house and a vehicle. The death toll in the two attacks reached 18," said one intelligence official. At least six foreigners were killed in the first strike.

There was no independent confirmation of the attacks and militants often dispute official death tolls.

Read the full NYTIMES story from October 2nd here.

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