Friday, October 10, 2008

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan | A suspected U.S. missile strike targeted two areas in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghanistan border on Thursday, killing at least nine people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Also Thursday, bombings targeting police killed 10 people and wounded 14 in Pakistan’s volatile northwest and in the capital - reminders of the challenge facing the country as its lawmakers pursue a national anti-terror consensus.

The purported missile strikes appeared to be part of a surge in U.S. cross-border assaults from Afghanistan on suspected militant targets in Pakistan, offenses that have strained ties between the two anti-terror allies.

One missile strike occurred at a house in Tappi village in North Waziristan tribal region. Some of those killed were thought to be foreigners, said two local Pakistani intelligence officials, citing reports from informants and agents.

A second strike was reported at a house in the village of Dande Darpa Khel. The site was near a seminary of veteran Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, considered an archenemy of the U.S.

The intelligence officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.

Al Qaeda and Taliban militants have used Pakistan’s tribal areas as bases from which to attack U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, spurring U.S. frustration with Pakistan. The tribal regions also are considered potential hiding places for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

Pakistani officials have protested that such strikes violate the nation’s sovereignty. The U.S. rarely acknowledges such missile strikes. Some of the strikes are thought to be carried out by the CIA, which is said to use Predator drones.

In the bombings Thursday, one attack, an apparent suicide car bombing, occurred in a police complex in Islamabad. It wrecked an anti-terror squad building and wounded at least four police officers.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb struck a prisoners’ vehicle in the Dir region near Afghanistan and killed two police officers, four inmates and four children. Ten people were wounded, said Sher Bahadur Khan, a senior government official.

Pakistan’s northwestern region bears the brunt of the violence in the country. But in recent weeks, the militants have repeatedly demonstrated that their reach extends further.

In September, a suicide truck bombing of an Islamabad hotel killed 54 people. Security has been beefed up in the capital, and it was especially high Thursday for a parliament session on finding a national anti-terror strategy.

State media reported that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari insisted attacks like those Thursday would not deter Pakistan from battling extremists.

But many citizens think Pakistan’s support of the U.S.-led war on terror is what’s spurring the violence. The fledgling civilian government has urged Pakistanis to take ownership of the war on terror.

After the parliament session adjourned Thursday, some politicians said they wanted more details on social, economic and other aspects of the extremist threat, not just military operations.

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