Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pakistani officials say U.S. drones kill 9 militants

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DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Suspected American drones fired several missiles into three militant hideouts near the Afghan border on Sunday, killing nine Pakistani Taliban fighters, intelligence officials said.

The strikes targeted the group's hideouts in the South Waziristan tribal region, the three officials said, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Two important commanders of the Pakistani Taliban may be among the killed militants, they said.

It was the third suspected U.S. drone strike in five days. A strike late Wednesday night killed a top Pakistani militant commander, Maulvi Nazir, whose fighters focus on attacks against U.S. and allied NATO troops in Afghanistan. It was followed by another attack on Thursday.

Islamabad opposes the use of U.S. drones but is believed to have tacitly approved some strikes in the past. Washington wants Pakistan to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, but Islamabad has said it does not have enough resources.

In absence of such an operation, the United States relies more on drone strikes. The program has killed a number of top militant commanders including Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was al-Qaida's No. 2 when he was killed in June.

The death of Nazir was likely to be seen in Washington as affirmation of its drone program. But it could cause more friction with Pakistan because Nazir did not focus on Pakistani targets.

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