Pak official admits US drone attacks have become more accurate

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Washington, Jan 16 (ANI): Pakistan has admitted that US drone attacks on its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan have become more accurate in past few months, leading to the death of eight ai Qaeda militants and decline in civilian casualties.

Among those killed was the mastermind of a 2006 plot to detonate liquid explosives aboard planes flying across the Atlantic, and the man thought to have planned the Septembr 20 bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, that killed 53 people, including two members of the US military.

"The strikes have become increasingly accurate," The Washington Times quoted a senior Pakistani official, as saying on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

The official, who has worked closely with US authorities, also said fighting was escalating between the foreign militants and members of native Pakistani tribes in the area along the Afghan border. As a result, he said, Arab al Qaeda members "are increasingly isolated."

Though al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden apparently remains at large, officials from the outgoing Bush Administration said they have scored significant hits.

"Within the last year or so we've had a very significant impact on senior al Qaeda leadership," Vice President Dick Cheney told PBS' "NewsHour" on Wednesday.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told reporters on Thursday that al Qaeda is feeling a backlash from Pakistani tribes and is under strain because of the loss of senior leaders.

Pakistan's tribal region, which was once a safe haven for the group, is not "safe nor a haven" anymore, Hayden said.

The issue of US air strikes on Pakistan has lately rocked the ties between the two countries, with Islamabad making repeated requests to Washington to stop them saying that they were an attack on its sovereignty.

Pakistan officials have also often said that the US attacks were generating anti-US sentiments making it difficult for the federal government to convince its citizens. (ANI)

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