Suspected U.S. Missile Attacks Kills 13 In Pakistan

By: AP
By: AP

MIR ALI, Pakistan – A suspected U.S. missile strike killed 13 people Saturday in a Pakistani tribal region where several militant outfits plot attacks on Western troops across the border in Afghanistan, officials said.

A roadside bomb aimed at police elsewhere in the country's volatile northwest killed a civilian and wounded eight people. Also, gunmen opened fire on police at a court in the southern city of Karachi; one police officer and an attacker were killed.

The attacks came as U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke met with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad, the latest in a series of visits aimed at shoring up Pakistani support for the American effort in Afghanistan.

The missile, apparently fired from an unmanned drone, struck a house in Haider Khel village near North Waziristan's Mir Ali town, said two intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media on the record.

Local government official Noor Mohammad said at least 13 people had been killed, while the intelligence officials said some foreigners were among the dead. Their exact identities and nationalities were not immediately clear.

The U.S. frequently uses missile strikes to take out Taliban and al-Qaida targets in Pakistan's northwest, especially the lawless tribal regions where many insurgents hide.

This year, the vast majority of the missile strikes have landed in North Waziristan, a segment of the tribal belt that houses several militant groups that focus on attacking Western troops across the border in Afghanistan.

Pakistan publicly protests the strikes as violations of its sovereignty, and the attacks are deeply unpopular among the Pakistani people. But Islamabad is believed to assist in at least some of the missile attacks.

The U.S. doesn't publicly acknowledge the existence of the covert, CIA-run program.

During a news conference Saturday, Holbrooke said Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network had been severely degraded in recent years. But he declined to lay blame for the failure to find bin Laden or Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The two wanted men are "still at large, but they are under an intense pressure," Holbrooke said. The envoy also praised Pakistan's efforts in fighting militancy and acknowledged the thousands of lives the country has lost in the fight.

He said the U.S. was committed to improving the lives of ordinary Pakistanis, pointing to ongoing partnerships aimed at easing problems related to water and energy and a host of other challenges facing the South Asian nation.

The roadside bomb in Dera Ismail Khan, which lies near the tribal belt, showed that Islamist militants continue to be active despite U.S. missile strikes and Pakistani army offensives against them.

Senior police official Aslam Khatak said the attack happened as the patrol vehicle traveled through the gritty town and that among the wounded was an area police official who played an important role in arresting militants, he said.

Six policemen and two civilians were wounded, while the one fatality was a passer-by.

In Karachi, police launched a manhunt for four suspected militants who escaped from a court after several assailants threw hand grenades and opened fire there, according to police officer Iqbal Mahmood. One police officer and an attacker were killed in the shootout.

Also Saturday, gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying an area police chief, Abdul Wahab, in the southwestern city of Quetta, wounding him critically, said Hamid Shakeel, a senior police official.

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