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US drones kill six Taliban in Pakistan

Associated Press / April 14, 2011

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two US missile strikes killed six reputed Afghan Taliban fighters in a Pakistani tribal region yesterday, drawing sharp condemnation from Pakistan’s government just days after it asked Washington to limit such attacks.

The United States relies heavily on the covert CIA-run missile program to kill Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest — a program Pakistan publicly denounces but has secretly helped. The Obama administration said Tuesday it is negotiating a possible reduction in US intelligence operatives and special operations officers in Pakistan as the two countries try to mend relations badly strained by the detention of a CIA contractor for killing two Pakistanis.

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry called drone attacks “a core irritant in the counterterror campaign’’ and said it had lodged a strong protest with US Ambassador Cameron Munter.

The latest strikes came minutes apart, hitting the South Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border, Pakistani intelligence officials said. They were the first missile attacks since a mid-March strike that Pakistan’s army chief said killed dozens of peaceful tribesmen.

On Monday, Pakistan’s spy chief, General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, met with CIA head Leon Panetta in Washington amid lingering tensions over the January shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA security contractor Raymond Davis.

Davis was freed on March 16 after nearly two months in detention.

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