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First suspected drone strike in Pakistan since bin Laden raid; 12 dead

From Nasir Habib, CNN
Friday's suspected drone strike (file photo) was the 21st this year compared to 111 in all of 2010.
Friday's suspected drone strike (file photo) was the 21st this year compared to 111 in all of 2010.
  • The operation took place in North Waziristan
  • Drone strikes have been controversial in Pakistan
  • One politician warned of disrupting NATO supply route

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A suspected U.S. drone struck and killed targets in Pakistan's tribal region Friday, the first such attack since American troops killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden north of Islamabad earlier this week.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN that 12 suspected militants were killed in the assault in the Data Khel region of North Waziristan, one of the seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The drone, an unmanned aircraft, attacked a militant hideout and a vehicle carrying militants.

The U.S. operation targeting bin Laden intensified discord and highlighted the mistrust between Pakistan and the United States, which did not inform the Pakistanis of the raid in the military garrison town of Abbottabad.

Before that dramatic operation, many Pakistanis had been particularly displeased with the controversial practice of targeting militants with unmanned aircraft because civilians have died in the operations.

Last month, 44 people were killed in a drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region and the government of Pakistan formally asked the U.S. government for an apology.

After that strike, frequency of the drone strikes was reduced.

CNN's Islamabad bureau has counted only four drone strikes over the last month and a half. Friday's suspected drone strike was the 21st this year compared to 111 in all of 2010. There was no immediate comment on the strike from the United States.

The intelligence officials asked not be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Imran Khan -- head of a right-wing political party in Pakistan -- has warned that his party and followers will disrupt the flow of supplies through Pakistan to NATO troops in Afghanistan if the strikes aren't stopped.

His group held a sit-in protest against the strikes in Peshawar last month. Around 8,000 to 10,000 people participated.

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