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US drone hits militant hideout in Pakistan

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A US military drone struck a militant hideout in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province yesterday, the first such strike outside of the country's tribal belt, but the 20th missile attack overall by US forces since August.

The strike underscored that, as the Taliban has spread deeper into Pakistan, the US is willing to engage them further inside Pakistani territory. Rather than clarifying a strategy for Pakistan and Washington to jointly follow, the strikes have only led to greater confusion between the two sides.

Yesterday's strike, which left five dead, took place in Bannu, an area abutting Pakistan's tribal belt, but still inside the country's North West Frontier Province. The target was some 19 miles from the Afghan border, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, adding:

The attack marked the first US missile strike outside of the rugged tribal regions, which have become safe havens for militants linked to Taliban and Al-Qaeda, one Pakistani security official said.

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