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UN Official Calls for End to CIA Drone Strikes

Pakistani tribesmen gather around an injured boy at a hospital in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan on following a US drone attack, 22 May 2010

A top United Nations investigator is calling on the United States to end its CIA drone missile strikes against suspected Islamic militants.

The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, says while such targeted killings are often permitted during armed combat, the U.S. is increasingly using the covert strikes far from the battlefield. He presented his 29-page report on the drone strikes to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.

In the report, Alston says the CIA's covert strikes have no public accountability, with the international community not knowing where the U.S. intelligence agency is authorized to kill, the criteria for choosing targets, and whether such killings are legal. He says it also is not known how the CIA follows up when civilians are illegally killed.

The CIA claims all of its operations are lawful and subject to government oversight.

The Obama administration has increased its use of drone strikes to target al-Qaida and Taliban hideouts in the tribal belt along the Afghan border into Pakistan.

Pakistan's government has objected to the strikes, saying the attacks are a violation of its sovereignty.

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