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Drone Strikes Kill 15 in Northwest Pakistan


Pakistani officials say three suspected U.S. drone strikes have killed at least 15 people in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border.

All three strikes, carried out by pilotless aircraft, took place Wednesday in North Waziristan, a stronghold for Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants.

Intelligence officials say the first strike in the village of Dande Darpa Khel targeted a compound of a local militant believed to be associated with the Haqqani network, killing at least seven suspected militants.

In the second attack, a drone targeted a vehicle in Datta Khel town 40 kilometers west of the main town of Miran Shah, killing four militants.

The third strike, also near Miran Shah, killed four militants late Wednesday.

The United States has stepped up its missile attacks in North Waziristan in an effort to root out insurgents responsible for planning and staging attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The strikes come a day after a car bomb ripped through a police complex in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 50 others.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack. However, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman told reporters Tuesday the group will target security forces because the Pakistani government is allowing the U.S. to carry out drone attacks. Pakistani officials have repeatedly and publicly condemned the use of drone strikes, calling them "counterproductive."

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for last week's suicide bombing in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, which killed 65 people during a Shi'ite rally.

On Wednesday, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government will begin targeting militant groups operating in Baluchistan by freezing their assets.

The province is also dealing with a low-level insurgency and sectarian violence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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