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US missiles kill 16 militants in NW Pakistan

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — U.S. drones fired four missiles at a compound of a Pakistani militant commander in a northwestern tribal region on Thursday, killing 16 militants, while a pair of bombings in another part of the country killed 10 civilians and three security personnel, officials said.

A government administrator in Orakzai region, Salim Khan, said 12 insurgents were also wounded in the drone attack near Biland village bordering the North Waziristan tribal region. Three Pakistani intelligence officials said the dead and wounded men were fighters loyal to militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is based in North Waziristan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters on the record.

Although U.S. authorities often target militant hideouts in the country's North and South Waziristan tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, such strikes in other tribal regions like Orakzai are rare. The U.S. rarely discusses the unmanned drone strikes, which are part of a covert CIA program.

The strikes are extremely contentious in Pakistan, where many consider them an affront to Pakistani sovereignty. They also say the strikes kill innocent civilians, which the U.S. denies.

The Pakistani government protested to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad about Thursday's drone strikes as well as another on Wednesday in which five people were killed.

"The embassy was informed that drone strikes on Pakistani territory were a clear violation of international law and Pakistan's sovereignty. These attacks were unacceptable to Pakistan," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Washington says the strikes are an important part of battling militants in the tribal areas, where Pakistan has been unable or unwilling to do so.

The latest drone attack came hours after a bomb at a crowded market in Pakistan's restive southwestern province of Baluchistan killed 10 people. A roadside bombing elsewhere in the troubled region killed three security officials, police said.

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