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Drone strike kills 21 suspected militants in northern Pakistan

| Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A U.S. drone strike killed at least 21 suspected militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on Wednesday, officials said, just days after Pakistan called for "clear terms of engagement" in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Among those targeted in the attack on a house 2 miles east of the main town of Miranshah were members of the Haqqani network responsible for the worsening insurgency in eastern Afghanistan, and foreign militants.

"The dead included local Taliban as well as some Arabs and Uzbek nationals," an intelligence official in North Waziristan said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It was the largest strike since July 12, when U.S. drones killed 48 suspected militants in North Waziristan.

Drone strikes have been a major source of friction between the United States and Pakistan, with ties at their worst since U.S. Special Forces killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in a secret raid in a Pakistani garrison town in May.

Last week, President Asif Ali Zardari called for "clear terms of engagement" between the two countries in the fight against members of al-Qaida and the Taliban operating in the country.

He did not spell out the terms of engagement but they likely involve more consultation on drone strikes as well as greater oversight of CIA activities in Pakistan, military experts said.

While Pakistan in the past was seen to have given tacit support to the drone campaign in its militant-infested northwest region, the red lines appeared to have been crossed with the bin Laden raid.

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