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Militants kill 2 alleged spies in NW Pakistan

world Updated: Nov 08, 2008 14:47 IST

AP
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Militants killed two Afghan men accused of spying for the United States and dumped their bodies in a Pakistani border region at the center of an intense campaign of American missile strikes, an official said on Saturday. Police found the bullet-ridden bodies of the two men on Saturday in the North Waziristan tribal region after a tip from residents, police official Gul Marjan said.

Each of the bodies found in the village of Ghulam Khan had a note pinned to it reading: "See the fate of this man. He was an American spy," Marjan said. The notes said the men were from the neighboring Afghan province of Khost.

Militants have executed scores of Afghans and Pakistanis in the region in recent years for alleged spying. It is unclear whether the victims, many of whom have been beheaded, were marking or informing on targets for US missile strikes.

At least 18 suspected strikes from unmanned US military and CIA aircraft have hit Pakistan's tribal regions since August, more than three times as many as in 2007.

Many of the cross-border attacks have targeted North Waziristan, a base for Afghan and foreign militants involved in the growing insurgency against the US backed government in Afghanistan. The raids have drawn condemnation from Pakistan's government, which argues that they undermine the country's sovereignty and its own efforts to combat Islamic radicalism.

"The US administration's reluctance to consider the repercussions of such operations is damaging the whole purpose of global efforts to combat terrorism," Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman said after an attack in North Waziristan on Friday that killed some 13 people.

However, the Pakistani government has also renewed its commitment to the seven-year-old US war on terror, even as it hopes that President-elect Barack Obama will be more receptive to its arguments.

Rehman said in a statement late on Friday that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was urging Washington to halt the attacks. It was unclear if Zardari raised the matter in an overnight telephone call with Obama.

Friday's attack in the village of Kam Sam was also the first since the installation of Gen. David Petraeus as head of the US Central Command on Oct 31, giving him overall command of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview in Afghanistan on Thursday, Petraeus said the border strikes had killed three "extremist leaders" in recent months and weeks. He did not identify the men.

There have been unconfirmed media reports that senior al-Qaida operatives Abu Jihad al Masri and Khalid Habib died in missile strikes in Pakistan in October.

Similar attacks in the border region killed al-Qaida commander Abu Laith al-Libi in January and explosives and poisons expert Abu Khabab al-Masri in July.

The rugged, mountainous region where the Pakistani government has never had much control is considered a likely hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.