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Bomb, drone attack kill 16 in Pakistan

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 10, 2013 at 7:32 a.m.

— A bomb targeting paramilitary soldiers killed 11 people in southwest Pakistan on Thursday, while five suspected militants died in a U.S. drone strike in the country’s northwest, officials said.

The drone strike was the seventh in two weeks, one of the most intense series of attacks in the past two years, a period in which political tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan led to a reduced number of strikes compared with 2010, when they were at their highest.

It’s unclear whether the current uptick has been caused by particularly valuable intelligence obtained by the CIA, or whether the warming of relations between the two countries has made strikes less sensitive. Protests by the government and Islamic hard-liners have been noticeably muted.

The U.S. views drone attacks as a key weapon against Taliban and al-Qaida militants out of its forces’ reach in Pakistan’s tribal region. But the attacks are extremely unpopular in Pakistan, posing a problem for the Pakistani government, which has played a double game in the past of denouncing the strikes in public while supporting some of them in private.

The strike Thursday occurred in a village near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in the North Waziristan tribal area, said Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

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