by Frank James
There are reports from Pakistan that missiles, presumably from a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV, have killed 10 people in that nation's tribal region across the border from Afghanistan.
If these missiles were indeed fired from a U.S. aircraft, they would represent the first such strikes (that we know about) of President Barack Obama's new administration.
Some Pakistanis had hoped the new U.S. president would halt those attacks started during the Bush Administration in which the CIA targets suspected al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The strikes have reportedly sometimes killed innocent civilians, outraging many Pakistanis and prompting continual protests from the government.
The Obama Administration has clearly decided the UAV-launched missile attacks are one aspect of Bush's war on terror that it wants to continue.
During the campaign, Obama said he would launch attacks into Pakistan against terrorist leaders like Osama bin Ladin if he had the intelligence to support such missions.
This brought criticism from his Republican presidential rival Sen. John McCain who said a president should not telegraph such actions. Still, the campaign promise to strike at terrorists within Pakistan's borders is apparently one Obama aims to keep.
Here's an excerpt from an Associated Press story:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Missiles fired from a suspected U.S. spy plane killed 10 people Friday in Pakistan just east of the Afghan border, security officials said, the first such strike since the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
At least five of the dead were identified as foreign militants, an intelligence officer said.
The missile strike on the lawless region where al-Qaida militants are known to hide out is the latest in a barrage of more than 30 since the middle of last year.
Pakistan's pro-U.S. leaders had expressed hope Obama would halt the attacks, which have reportedly killed several top al-Qaida operatives but triggered anger at the government by nationalist and Muslim critics.
Islamabad routinely protests the strikes in the northwest as a violation of the country's sovereignty, but most observers speculate it has an unwritten agreement allowing them to take place, noting it would be highly damaging to be seen as colluding with Washington in attacks on its people.
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