U.S. ratchets up Predator strikes

03/23/2009 | Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)

Despite anti-U.S. protests among civilian and government officials in Pakistan, the U.S. will accelerate the program that employs missile-equipped Predator drones to seek and destroy al-Qaida operatives hiding in the inhospitable wilds of Pakistan's mountainous Afghanistan border. The program has seen a sharp uptick, with 38 strikes since August -- nearly four times as many strikes as in 2006 and 2007 combined. Though the campaign has been met with sharp criticism from Pakistanis outraged by civilian deaths, U.S. counter-terrorism officials report the strikes have killed, confused and demoralized al-Qaida figures on the lam.

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