Strikes in Pakistan Underscore Obama’s Options
By RICHARD A. OPPEL JR, New York Times, January 24, 2009
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two missile attacks launched from remotely piloted American aircraft killed at least 15 people in western Pakistan on Friday. The strikes suggested that the use of drones to kill militants within Pakistan’s borders would continue under President Obama.
Remotely piloted Predator drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency have carried out more than 30 missile attacks since last summer against members of Al Qaeda and other terrorism suspects deep in their redoubts on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.
But some of the attacks have also killed civilians, enraging Pakistanis and making it harder for the country’s shaky government to win support for its own military operations against Taliban guerrillas in the country’s lawless border region.
American officials in Washington said there were no immediate signs that the strikes on Friday had killed any senior Qaeda leaders. They said the attacks had dispelled for the moment any notion that Mr. Obama would rein in the Predator attacks.
Mr. Obama and his top national security aides are likely in the coming days to review other counterterrorism measures put in place by the Bush administration, American officials said.
These include orders President Bush secretly approved in July that for the first time allowed American Special Operations forces to carry out ground raids in Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government.
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