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Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Drone shot in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Dispatches) -- A suspected U.S. drone crashed in Pakistan's tribal region on Sunday in North Waziristan.
Local tribesmen were congratulating each other for shooting down the drone, according to residents. “I saw the aircraft was coming down … tribesmen are celebrating and congratulating each other for shooting it down,” “Saudur Rehman was quoted by AP.
If tribal fighters, who are unaffiliated with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, can shoot down a drone, it could present a major challenge for the U.S. in an area where the Pakistani military had been unable to defeat a growing insurgency.
The crash occurred around 6 p.m. in the Hamdhoni area, some four kilometers northwest of the main town of Miran Shah.
North Waziristan is dominated by militant goups that stage cross-border attacks against the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. One of these groups, the Haqqani network, al al-Qaida-linked Afghan Taliban faction, is believed to help orchestrate the Dec. 30 suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees.
In the last few months, the U.S. has launched almost daily drone flights over Waziristan and other districts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
It was the second reported crash of a U.S. drone in Pakistan. In September 2008, Pakistani officials said a drone went down on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan, near Jalal village in the Angoor Adda region of South Waziristan.
U.S. officials and the military denied that account.
During recent visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Pakistan, the local politicians expressed their anger at the U.S. drone attacks. Many Pakistanis believe that such attacks create more terrorists than it kills. The U.S. killed 700 civilians in 44 distinct drone attacks in Pakistan in 2009.
Last November the Pakistani government lodged a protest with the U.S. ambassador over drone missile strikes and during an exercise the Pakistani soldiers practiced shooting at pilotless “drone” aircraft.
Aircraft guns and short-range surface-to-air missiles were used during the exercise conducted at a desert range in the central Punjab province.