US drone strike destroys bakery, kills three militants | News | DW | 26.05.2012
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US drone strike destroys bakery, kills three militants

Washington has shown no sign of relenting in its drone campaign along the Pakistan-Afghan border, launching its third strike in four days. Saturday's strike killed at least three militants in North Waziristan.

A US drone killed at least three militants in Pakistan's northwestern frontier with neighboring Afghanistan, the third such attack in the region in less than a week.

The drone fired two missiles at a building in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, one of 13 federally administered tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Washington considers North Waziristan to be a stronghold for the militant Haqqani network and the Pakistani wing of the Taliban, both of which launch cross-border raids into Afghanistan.

The Associated Press, citing Pakistani intelligence sources, reported that the drone targeted a local bakery where the alleged militants were buying goods. Earlier in the week, two separate US drone strikes in North Waziristan killed a total of 14 people.

Last March, a Pakistani parliamentary commission called for an end to US drone strikes, calling them a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Washington has long pressed Islamabad to launch a renewed military offensive in North Waziristan, but to no avail.

According to a tally by the news agency AFP, Washington launched 45 missile strikes in Pakistan in 2009, the year US President Barack Obama took office. The number of strikes climbed to 101 in 2010 and then decreased to 64 in 2011.

The New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, reports that US drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan over the past eight years.

Turbulent relations

This week's spate of drone strikes comes as Washington and Islamabad struggle to reach an agreement over the re-opening of closed NATO supply routes across Pakistani territory. Islamabad shut the routes down six months ago after US airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two border posts in a friendly-fire incident.

Although there had been reports of progress toward a deal, the negotiations have become bogged down in a disagreement over the amount Washington should pay Islamabad for each truck that transits Pakistani territory. During the recent NATO summit in Chicago, US President Obama snubbed Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, talking to him only in passing in an aside that included Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In a further sign of the strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, a Pakistani court on Wednesday convicted a doctor - who helped US special forces locate al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden - for treason, sentencing the physician to 33 years in prison. In retaliation, the US Senate voted on Thursday to cut aid to Pakistan by $33 million (26 million euros).

slk/ng (AP, AFP, dpa)