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Fighters killed in Pakistan drone attack

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US drone attacks in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas resumed in January after a short lull in Novermber 2011 [Reuters] Pakistani intelligence officials have said a US missile strike in northwest Pakistan has killed at least three suspected fighters.

The officials said two missiles hit an abandoned girls school on Sunday in the town of Miran Shah in the North Waziristan tribal region. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone programme was apparently halted after a November NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, sparking fury in Pakistan.

The drone attacks in the northwestern areas along the Afghan border were resumed on January 10.

Several armed groups, including the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda, operate in Pakistan's semi-autonomous regions, taking advantage of a porous frontier with Afghanistan to conduct cross-border attacks, or plot violence elsewhere.

North Waziristan is also an important base for the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, an Afghan faction allied with the Taliban, which the US says is one of its deadliest adversaries in Afghanistan.

While the Haqqanis say they no longer need havens in North Waziristan and stay in Afghanistan, they are known to still maintain a presence in the Pakistani border region.

The use of the remotely piloted aircraft over Pakistan is opposed by most Pakistani politicians and the public, who
consider drone strikes violations of sovereignty with unacceptable civilian casualties.

But despite public opposition, Pakistan appears to have quietly supported the programme, which President Barack Obama ramped up after taking office in 2009.

On January 30, during an online question-and-answer forum sponsored by Google, Obama acknowledged the use of drones to make targeted killings for the first time.


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