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Pakistan Urges Halt to US Missile Strikes in Tribal Areas

By VOA News
26 March 2009

Pakistani officials are calling on the United States to reconsider its use of unmanned aircraft (drones) to launch missiles at suspected al-Qaida and Taliban targets in Pakistan's border region.

Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said Thursday the attacks were "counterproductive." He said the Pakistani government hopes the U.S. will re-think the missile strikes during its review of U.S. policy.

The Obama administration is expected to unveil its new strategy to fight rising violence in neighboring Afghanistan on Friday. A key part of the plan is rooting out terrorist cells in Pakistan and boosting diplomatic efforts.

An estimated 30 missile strikes from unmanned aircraft have been carried out in Pakistan in recent months.

On Wednesday, a suspected U.S. missile hit two vehicles in South Waziristan, killing at least seven people, including foreign fighters. A second missile strike was reported Thursday in North Waziristan.

Elsewhere, a suicide bombing at a restaurant in South Waziristan Thursday killed 11 people.

Pakistan's Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Jandola. At least 20 other people were wounded.

Pakistani intelligence officials said the attack targeted pro-government militants opposed to local Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

The U.S. State Department has posted a $5 million reward for information leading to the location or arrest of Mehsud. He is considered a key al-Qaida operative and is accused of plotting the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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