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May 23, 2012

Drone Kills 4 Suspected Militants in NW Pakistan

by VOA News

Pakistani intelligence officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed four suspected militants in northwest Pakistan.

The officials say two missiles hit a compound Wednesday near Miranshah, in the tribal belt near the Afghan border.

Pakistani lawmakers have called for an end to U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil, but the United States says the strikes targeting militants are crucial to defeating al-Qaida and the Taliban.

US assistance

Relations between the countries hit a low in November when U.S. airstrikes mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.  Islamabad responded by cutting off NATO ground supply routes, and negotiations continue on a deal to re-open the borders.

A U.S. Senate subcommittee voted Tuesday to cut proposed aid to Pakistan by more than half, and threatened to withhold even more money unless the supply routes are reopened.

The aid is part of President Barack Obama's budget proposal for next year.

The panel voted $1 billion in aid to Pakistan - a 58 percent cut in the level proposed by Obama.  The amount includes $50 million for counterinsurgency that is tied to the NATO supply line reopening.

Panel leaders said they do not want to invest in an uncooperative nation.

The spending plan is far from final.  The full Senate committee, both houses of Congress and Obama must approve the budget.

The U.S. withdrew as much as $3 billion of promised military aid as relations with Pakistan deteriorated following the November airstrikes.