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Terrorism & Security

US drone strikes in Pakistan on rise again

A US drone killed three suspected militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal region, including the de facto leader of Al Qaeda, in the second such attack in as many days.

By Staff writer / February 9, 2012

A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in this 2010 file photo.

Massoud Hossaini/REUTERS/File

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A US drone strike killed a senior militant in northwestern Pakistan today, one of two drone attacks on suspected militants this week.

Pakistani intelligence officials and Pakistani Taliban members told Reuters that the strike in the town of Miran Shah killed Bador Mansoor, a leader of a faction of the Pakistani Taliban with close ties to Al Qaeda. At least three others were killed in the strike, which came on the heels of a strike yesterday that killed 10 people.

Mr. Mansoor led a group of more than 200 Pakistani Taliban fighters in North Waziristan (see map here), a key sanctuary for militants, an insurgent told the Associated Press. Intelligence officials said they could not confirm for the AP that Mansoor was among those killed in the strike on Miran Shah’s bazaar.

Agence France-Presse reports that Pakistani intelligence described Mansoor as “de facto leader of Al Qaeda in Pakistan” since his predecessor, Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in a strike last June.

Drone attacks seem to be occurring more regularly since the resumption of the campaign on Jan. 10 after a nearly two-month hiatus. Drone operations were halted temporarily after a NATO airstrike mistakenly targeted a Pakistani military outpost in November, killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and infuriating Pakistan.

President Barack Obama openly acknowledged the drone program – dubbed the “worst kept secret in Pakistan and Washington” – after the campaign resumed. However, it has been obvious for years that the US has been behind the strikes in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal region, which butts against the Afghan border.

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