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October 11, 2012

Suspected US Drone Strike in Pakistan Targets Militants

by VOA News

Pakistani officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed at least 16 suspected militants in the country's northwest, near the Afghan border.

Officials say missiles targeted militants loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadurit in a compound in Orakzai tribal agency that borders North Waziristan.  It was the second strike in the region in as many days.  Much of Pakistan's tribal area is a known stronghold of al-Qaida and Taliban-linked militants.

Pakistan's foreign ministry lodged a protest against this week's drone strikes with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.  The ministry said the strikes on Pakistani territory are "unacceptable" and a "clear violation" of international law and Pakistan's sovereignty.  U.S. officials say the strikes are an important tool in defeating militants.

In the country's southwest, authorities say a bomb killed at least nine people at a market in the town of Sibi.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the group was moved to a military hospital in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani military officials say 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was airlifted from a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology.  Doctors say Yousufzai is unconscious, in critical condition and has a 70 percent chance of surviving.

She was shot in the head and neck Tuesday as she left school in the northwestern Swat Valley.  The Taliban said the child was targeted for being pro-West.

Pakistani officials say Yousufzai's attackers have been identified and a $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to their arrest.  The attack has drawn domestic and international condemnation.

Yousufzai is internationally recognized for documenting Taliban atrocities in the area near her home.  She wrote under a pseudonym - Gul Makai - in a blog published by the BBC.

In her blog, Yousufzai described life under the Taliban in 2008 and 2009, when militants carried out beheadings and other violence in the territory they controlled - large areas of the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

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