Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 5 News List

US missile kills 10 in Pakistan: officials

AGENCIES , LONDON AND MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN

A suspected US missile strike killed at least 10 Islamist militants in a Pakistani tribal region known as a hub of al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels, security officials said yesterday.

The strike comes amid repeated warnings from Pakistan that the attacks are in violation of international law and could deepen resentment of the US in the world’s second-largest Islamic nation.

But Washington has stepped up the strikes since March, when a civilian government took over from General Pervez Musharraf, who turned Pakistan into a close US ally in the “war on terror.”

In the latest attack, officials said, two missiles apparently fired from a drone aircraft demolished a house in North Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.

“Nine foreigners were among ten killed,” a top security official said.

Pakistani officials normally use the term “foreigners” to describe al-Qaeda militants.

Up to 14 militants were killed last Friday in a US missile strike that destroyed an al-Qaeda training camp in Kumsham village in North Waziristan.

A series of recent strikes against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan’s tribal areas, all blamed on unmanned CIA drones, have raised tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari warned the new US commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, last week that the attacks were “counterproductive” and could harm the battle for hearts and minds here.

Meanwhile, UK officials said US president-elect Barack Obama would press them to contribute as many as 2,000 additional troops to fight in Afghanistan and that the UK would have a hard time turning him down, the BBC reported on Thursday.

Despite warnings that the UK military was overstretched by commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the BBC said government ministers were considering sending reinforcements to Afghanistan in anticipation of a request from Obama, who takes office early next year.

Obama has repeatedly called for an increase in troops in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda there.

He has said he planned to add about 7,000 or 8,000 US troops to the NATO mission, and UK officials thought he would lean on the UK to increase their contribution as well, the BBC said. Citing unnamed ministers and officials as the sources of its report, the BBC said the UK would have trouble refusing Obama given his popularity.

The UK Ministry of Defense said it had made no decision about moving additional troops to the country.

“The figure of 2,000 [reported by the BBC] is one that we do not recognize,” a military spokesman said, speaking anonymously in line with policy.

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