Militants kill 4 in Pakistan for alleged US links

AP News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 5:42 AM
Militants kill 4 in Pakistan for alleged US links

Militants killed four men for allegedly providing the United States with information used in a recent drone attack that Pakistan claims killed many innocent civilians, Pakistani intelligence officials said Monday.

Authorities found the bullet-riddled bodies of three Pakistanis and one Afghan in the North Waziristan tribal area with notes outlining their alleged role in the March 17 drone strike, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Pakistanis were found in the Datta Khel area where the attack occurred, while the Afghan was discovered near Mir Ali, one of the main towns in North Waziristan, said the officials.

The notes found with the bodies warned that anyone who helps the U.S. will face a similar fate, they said. Militants often kill alleged spies after drone attacks.

Pakistani intelligence officials initially said the roughly three dozen people killed in last Thursday's drone attack were militants meeting in a compound to discuss sending additional insurgents to Afghanistan to fight foreign forces.

But they changed their story the next day, saying the meeting consisted of two tribes who had asked the Taliban to help mediate a dispute over a nearby chromite mine. The attack killed 12 Taliban and 24 innocent tribesmen, they said.

The allegations sparked a rare condemnation by Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has close ties with U.S. military figures. Other senior Pakistani officials also criticized the attack, and the government said it would not participate in a trilateral meeting with the U.S. and Afghanistan that Washington had proposed at the end of March in Brussels.

The U.S. does not publicly acknowledge covert CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. But unnamed officials in Washington abruptly dismissed Pakistan's claims, saying innocent civilians were not targeted in the strike.

The U.S. response could have been partly fueled by what many see as Pakistan's two-faced policy on drone strikes. Pakistani officials often criticize them as violations of the country's sovereignty, but the military is believed to provide intelligence for some of the strikes, and some of the drones are believed to take off from bases in Pakistan.