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Pakistanis, Angered by US Drone Strikes, Block NATO Supply Route

A rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, Peshawar, April 23, 2011

Pakistanis opposed to U.S. drone strikes on insurgent targets in Pakistan have blocked a road used by the NATO alliance to deliver supplies to neighboring Afghanistan.

Several thousand supporters of a Pakistani party led by former cricket star Imran Khan were staging a sit-in Sunday on the NATO supply route near the northwestern city of Peshawar. They began the protest late Saturday and planned to remain until Sunday evening.

NATO ships much of its non-lethal supplies for forces in landlocked Afghanistan to the Pakistani port of Karachi before delivering them by truck to the Afghan border. Militants often attack the convoys in Pakistan to stop them from reaching U.S.-led NATO forces fighting a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

U.S. drone strikes against Taliban-allied militants in northwest Pakistan have been a source of friction between the two countries. Khan and his supporters at the protest site demanded that the United States stop the missile attacks, saying they say kill innocent Pakistanis.

U.S. officials have never publicly acknowledged the use of drones inside Pakistan, but privately they have confirmed the strikes to various news outlets, saying the operations have killed mostly militants.