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A Pakistani demonstrator holds a burning US flag during a protest in Multan on Jan 8, against the drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Latest drone strike kills 8 in northwestern Pakistan Foreign tactical trainer for Qaeda reportedly among the dead

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, Jan 8, (Agencies): A US drone strike killed eight people in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, three intelligence sources said, the latest in a series of drone attacks that come as a retired US general warns their overuse may threaten American foreign policy goals.

A foreign tactical trainer for al-Qaeda was reportedly among those killed in the latest strike, although reports differed on his nationality. Some intelligence officials said he was from Somalia but others said he was from the United Arab Emirates.

Three others were also injured in the attack on Haiderkhel village, about 30 kms (19 miles) east of the provincial capital of Miranshah in North Waziristan, a region along the Afghan border that is a key stronghold of the Taleban.

Al-Qaeda’s top strategist Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed nearby in a drone attack last year.

On Monday, retired US General Stanley McChrystal said that drones had helped US troops but were hated around the world and that their overuse could jeopardize American security.

Opinion in Pakistan is divided over drone strikes. Many criticize them as an infringement of the country’s sovereignty and because they have killed civilians. Others say the strikes reach militants who are terrorizing the local population in areas the Pakistani army cannot go.

There has been an increase in drone strikes in recent weeks.

North Waziristan, the area where the strike occurred, is considered a stronghold for insurgent groups operating in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is one of the few parts of the tribal areas that border Afghanistan in which the Pakistani military has not conducted a military operation to root out militants, despite repeated pushes to do so from the American government.

Tuesday’s strike was the fourth since the new year began.

On Sunday nine Pakistani Taleban fighters were killed when American missiles fired from several drones flying overhead slammed into three militant hideouts in another tribal area, South Waziristan.
The militant in charge of training suicide bombers for the Pakistani Taleban was believed by Pakistan intelligence officials to have died in Sunday’s strike.

On Jan 2, a drone strike killed a top Pakistani militant commander, Maulvi Nazir. He was accused of carrying out deadly attacks against American and other targets across the border in Afghanistan. But unlike most members of the Taleban in Pakistan, he negotiated a truce with the Pakistani military in 2009 and did not attack Pakistani troops or domestic targets.

The US’s covert drone program is extremely controversial in Pakistan where many in the country look at it as an infringement on their sovereignty. Many Pakistanis complain that innocent civilians have also been killed, something the US rejects.

Islamabad officially opposes the use of US drones on its territory, but is believed to have tacitly approved some strikes in past.

The covert US drone strikes are publicly criticised by the Pakistani government as a violation of sovereignty but American officials believe they are a vital weapon in the war against Islamist militants.
Legal lobby group Reprieve estimates that up to nearly 900 civilians were among the 2,621 to 3,442 people killed by drones in Pakistan since 2004.





 

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