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Terrorism & Security

In Pakistan, US airstrike kills at least 8, but misses target

Frustration with such strikes is rising in Pakistan. On Thursday, the parliament called for making talks with militants the 'top priority.'

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Violence also erupted in the tribal area of Bajaur, where the Pakistani government is waging a full-scale military operation against militants, Reuters adds.

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Separately, Pakistani artillery, backed by helicopter gunships, pounded militant positions in the Bajaur region overnight and early on Thursday, and residents and officials said nine militants were killed.

And in Swat, in North West Frontier Province, police on Wednesday found the bodies of several government paramilitaries that had gone missing, The Daily Times, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, reported.

At least 15 paramilitary soldiers and five Taliban were found dead in Kabal tehsil of Swat on Wednesday.
The Frontier Constabulary troops had gone missing after a fight with Taliban that broke out on Tuesday after a roadside bomb targeted a paramilitary convoy in the Sarsenai area.

There was also bad news across the border in Afghanistan, where US troops accidentally killed members of the Afghan nation Army, the Washington Post reports.

Nine Afghan soldiers were killed and four others injured by a U.S. airstrike on an Afghan army checkpoint Wednesday in an apparent friendly-fire incident in eastern Afghanistan, according to Afghan and U.S. military officials.

The Post adds that this was not the first such controversial incident in recent months.

The apparent mistaken strike comes after a series of errant air operations that have stirred controversy in Afghanistan in recent months. On Monday, NATO officials said a joint investigation with the Defense Ministry determined that an airstrike on a Taliban compound in southern Helmand province last week killed a number of civilians, including several women and children. NATO officials said coalition troops called for air support after they came under heavy fire near the town of Nad Ali. NATO officials did not release the number of civilians killed, but Afghan government officials said shortly after the Oct. 16 airstrike that they believed at least 18 civilians were killed.

As Taliban violence has spiraled, Pakistan's new parliament, which formed in March, has urged the controversial tack of negotiating with the Taliban. During Thursday's closed-door parliamentary session, members of Parliament called "making talks with militants the top priority," the Guardian reports, adding

While saying dialogue "must now be the highest priority," it stipulates that talks should be pursued with those elements willing to follow the constitution and the rule of law.

On Wednesday, however, government members in both Afghanistan and Pakistan jointly announced that no such negotiations would take place, Pakistan's Daily Times reports.

The Pakistani and Afghan foreign ministers told a press conference on Wednesday the two countries agree on not holding talks with armed Taliban.
"Talks will be held with only those who are willing to lay down arms and those who live within the constitution," Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta said. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said other nations were coming around to Pakistan's multi-pronged counterterrorism strategy that said "no talks with militants but political dialogue with those who agree to live as peaceful citizens".

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