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US drone strike kills 13 suspected militants in Pak

March 09, 2012 21:36 IST

At least 13 suspected militants were on Friday killed after a United States drone targeted a house and a vehicle in the restive South Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, officials said.

Local residents said the spy plane fired two missiles at the house and the vehicle in Mandao area of South Waziristan Agency, where the Pakistan Army had conducted a major offensive to flush out militants.

The identity of the dead men could not immediately be ascertained.

Local residents said they had seen several drones hovering over the area, located along the boundary between South and North Waziristan.

There have been around a dozen drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal belt this year.

At least 40 people were killed in these missile strikes, most of which were carried out in North Waziristan Agency.

Friday's drone attack took place hours after Al Qaeda confirmed that a strike in North Waziristan last month killed commanders Badr Mansoor, who was believed to be behind many suicide attacks.

Following a spike in tensions between the US and Pakistan in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the number of drone attacks dropped last year.

The use of the CIA-operated spy planes was cut back further after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Pakistani officials publicly describe the missile attacks as "counter-productive" but reports have said the government has extended tacit support to the drone campaign.
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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