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article imageLethal CIA-led drone strike jolts Pakistan; at least 17 killed

By Abdul Kuddus     Jul 3, 2013 in World
Islamabad - In one of the most lethal CIA-led drone strikes, reportedly seventeen people died in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan, according to reports.
The strike came shortly after midnight Tuesday, close to the Afghan border which is reportedly a hub of militants, according to the Guardian.
The drone strike targeted a building that housed an unofficial sharia court for dispensing Islamic justice on the outskirts of Miranshah, the political capital of North Waziristan.
Four missiles from an unmanned aircraft hit the building.
An official in Peshawar confirmed the attack. He told AFP on condition of anonymity:
"The attack came when the militants were sleeping in the targeted compound. The death toll from the attack may rise."
A local resident in Miranshah, who saw the strike said:
"I never heard such a huge drone strike before. They simultaneously fired four huge missiles and jolted the entire town."
Officials from the region said that the drones targeted militants from the Haqqani Network, a powerful Taliban faction believed to have been behind most of the attacks in Kabul against NATO troops and government targets within Afghanistan.
This is the second major strike since the US president, Barack Obama’s open statement on drone policy in May this year.
Obama agreed to tighten the rules governing drone strikes but reiterated that drone attacks would remain a vital tool in the fight against armed Taliban and the Al-Qaeda.
Earlier in May 28, drone attack killed Pakistani Taliban deputy leader Maulana Waliur Rahman and five other suspected militant commanders in Miranshah.
The issue of drone strikes within Pakistan continue to remain a serious source of tension between Washington and Islamabad.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly protested the latest strike in a statement:
“These strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized the importance of bringing an immediate end to drone strikes.”
Nawaz Sharif, following his appointment as Pakistan Prime Minister had asked the US to respect his country's sovereignty and refrain from further attacks.
While the Pakistani government regularly denounces the strikes as a violation of the country's sovereignty, the fact that US drone operate with ease from Pakistani airbases indicates the tacit acceptance of the US drone policy by Pakistan.
Wednesday’s drone attack indicates that the CIA drone war continues with Pakistan left in a dilemma—it cannot lose favour with Washington by resisting drone attacks. At the same time, it risks losing credibility at home by remaining silent.
“The last two governments dealt with this dilemma by protesting in public while approving the attacks in private. Thanks to WikiLeaks, the public knows,” wrote Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in al-Jazeera.
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