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Pakistan Troops Fight Taliban After US Drone Crash


A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile setting off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. An unmanned United States drone has crashed in Pakistan's lawless northwestern tribal district after suffering a technical fault (photo: AFP)

Pakistani troops have battled Taliban fighters for the debris of a US unmanned drone which crashed in a north-western tribal area.

It was not clear whether the unmanned drone had come down because of Taliban fire or due to a technical fault.

The US does not comment on its drone missile programme, which is designed to target insurgents in the area.

It was the second drone crash in a month in Pakistan, although such incidents are rare.

The drone crashed on Saturday night close to Jangara village in South Waziristan, which lies close to the Afghan border.
'Two killed'

The Taliban said they had shot down the unmanned aircraft, but local security officials told AFP news agency it was a result of technical problems.

The debris was first taken by the Taliban, but Pakistani troops were later sent to seize it back, security sources said.

At least two militants were killed in the ensuing firefight, while one soldier was wounded, security sources told Reuters.

North and South Waziristan are regularly targeted by drone missiles.

The US says the region provides sanctuary to al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents who are involved in attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Drone attacks have escalated in the region since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. More than 100 raids were reported in the area last year.

The US does not routinely confirm drone operations, but analysts say only American forces have the capacity to deploy such aircraft in the region.

Pakistan publicly criticises drone attacks, saying they kill innocent civilians and fuel support for militants. But observers say the authorities privately condone the strikes, although there have been recent signs that they want to limit the scope of such attacks.

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