8 September 2010
US drone strike kills 18 militants in Pakistan: officials
by Staff Writers

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Three_US_drone_strikes _kill_18_militants_in_Pakistan_999.html

Lebanese speaker warns relaunched talks could raise tensions
Beirut (AFP) Sept 8, 2010 - Lebanon's parliament speaker warned on Wednesday that the relaunched Middle East peace talks could raise tensions on the border with Israel and ignite clashes in Palestinian refugee camps. "These talks will no doubt cover (Palestinian) refugees, water and oil in the region," speaker Nabih Berri said in a statement. "All of this may... ignite clashes inside Lebanon's refugee camps and affect security in the south," said Berri, an ally of Lebanon's Islamic militant Hezbollah movement that opposes the peace negotiations.

Lebanon has not issued an official reaction to relaunched peace talks in Washington last week that marked the first direct negotiations in 20 months between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. They are due to meet again on September 14 in Egypt in a series of meetings to be held every two weeks that negotiators hope will lead to a final peace agreement within a year. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates Lebanon today houses 400,000 Palestinians, but Lebanese officials estimate a figure of 300,000. A dispute over a patch of trees last month ignited a border clash between Lebanese and Israeli troops that killed two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist as well as a senior Israeli officer.

Miranshah, Pakistan (AFP) - Three separate US drone strikes in Pakistan's northwestern tribal district killed at least 18 militants on Wednesday, security officials said.

Washington has branded the rugged area on the Afghan border -- part of which has been hit by Pakistan's catastrophic flooding -- a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

Officials in Washington say the drone strikes are a vital tool needed to protect the 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan and have killed a number of high-value targets including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

The third strike Wednesday again hit North Waziristan, the same tribal district targeted in the previous two drone attacks and a renowned hub for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Dandey Darpakhel, a village five kilometres (three miles) from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, was targeted twice and missiles destroyed two different compounds, killing 14 rebels.

In the other attack, a drone fired two missiles which struck a vehicle, killing four militants in Amboor Shaga village of Datta Khel town, 40 kilometres from Miranshah.

All three strikes were confirmed by intelligence officials in Miranshah, who also confirmed the death toll.

US forces have been waging a drone war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked commanders in the northwestern tribal belt, where militants have carved out havens in mountains outside direct government control.

The US military does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the region.

More than 1,040 people have been killed in more than 100 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, including a number of senior militants. However, the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.

Al-Qaeda announced in June that its number three leader and Osama bin Laden's one-time treasurer Mustafa Abu al-Yazid had been killed in what security officials said appeared to be a drone strike in North Waziristan.

Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens along the Afghan border, Pakistan has in the past year significantly increased operations against militants in the area.

More than 3,700 people have been killed in the last three years in a series of suicide attacks and bomb explosions across Pakistan, many of them carried out by the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists.

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