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US Missile Kills Ten in Pakistan
By Pir Zubair Shah and Alan Cowell, New York Times
Islamabad, Pakistan - Missiles fired from a remotely-piloted United States aircraft slammed into a village in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan along the Afghan border on Friday and killed between 10 and 13 people, according to a local intelligence official, a Pakistani reporter and two Pakistani television channels.
State television put the death toll at 10 and other news reports said the dead included eight local people and five foreigners. . The deaths were the latest fatalities in a series of American missile attacks that have drawn increasingly irate protests from Pakistan to senior American officials, including the head of the United States Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the American ambassador here, Anne Patterson.
The Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, and the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, both condemned Friday's attack.
Since an American commando raid on Pakistani soil in early September, there have been reports of more than 15 American strikes directed at militants hiding out in the tribally-ruled Waziristan region.
The authorities accuse militants of using Waziristan as a base for attacks both in Pakistan and against the American-led coalition fighting an intensifying war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But Pakistan maintains that the American strikes undermine its own efforts to curb the violence.
Pakistani state television said the latest attack hit the village of Kumshaam in the Razmak area of North Waziristan at 10.30 a.m. Friday. Four missiles struck a compound and adjoining guest rooms belonging to a local man identified as Alif Khan.
A Pakistani television station said remotely-guided aircraft were seen flying over several parts of North Waziristan. The strike was close to the border of North and South Waziristan, the intelligence and television channels said.
While the missile strikes have caused many casualties, there have been no reports of fatalities among the most senior Qaeda and Taliban figures. The strikes on Friday were the first since President-elect Barack Obama's victory in the American elections on Nov. 4.
Pakistan is a close ally of the United States in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but Washington has paid little evident heed to Pakistani leaders' demands for the missile strikes to halt.
Pakistan has complained that the American attacks represent a violation of its sovereignty.
In late October, the Pakistani government lodged a formal protest over the American missile attacks and told the American ambassador the strikes should be "stopped immediately," the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said at the time.
The protest came after a missile strike by a drone in South Waziristan killed 20 people, including several local Taliban commanders.
Earlier this week, General Petraeus met top Pakistani officials who told him the airstrikes were unhelpful.
Apart from the campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Waziristan, Pakistani forces say they have been conducting a separate offensive against militants in the Bajaur region of northwest Pakistan, which also borders Afghanistan.
The militants have responded with bomb attacks, the most recent on Thursday when suicide bombers killed at least 19 people in two attacks on pro-government tribesmen and security forces, The Associated Press reported. One was directed at a gathering of local people meeting to plan ways of driving militants out of the area they lived in.
Alan Cowell contributed from Paris.