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Thousands Blockade NATO Route in Protest of US Drone Strikes

Popular Pakistani politician Imran Khan leads protest of strike in his province, continued US strikes in region

- Common Dreams staff

Drone protest staged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by Imran Khan (AFP)Thousands of people demonstrated against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan on Saturday, blockading a road used as a supply route for NATO trucks heading to Afghanistan.

Popular politician and former cricket star Imran Khan, and his Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), spearheaded the protest in a bid to put added pressure on the government to deny the U.S.'s ability to conduct drone strikes within Pakistan's boarders.

"We will put pressure on America, and our protest will continue if drone attacks are not stopped," Khan told the protesters.

A senior police official in Peshawar told Agence France-Presse there were up to 15,000 demonstrators at the scene.

Agence France-Presse reports:

Khan accuses the United States of using a drone strike to kill Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud as part of an effort to sabotage potential peace talks in Pakistan.

Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal area on November 2, sparking outrage in the country.

The Pakistani government said the killing destroyed progress towards talks to end the Taliban's bloody six-year insurgency that has left thousands of soldiers, police and civilians dead.

The latest drone strike occurred on Thursday and was the first strike in over five years to hit outside Pakistan's remote tribal regions.

The scene of the strike in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comes under the jurisdiction of Khan's PTI provincial government.

Khan's party released a statement on Saturday saying they will blockade NATO supply trucks through the province until drone strikes cease, starting Sunday.

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