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Suspected U.S. missiles kill 2 in Pakistan

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan » A suspected U.S. drone fired two missiles at a house in Pakistan’s rugged tribal region Thursday, killing two insurgents from the Haqqani network — considered the most dangerous militant group fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The strike occurred only a few miles from the main Islamic school run by Haqqanis near Miran Shah, the largest town in the North Waziristan tribal area, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The U.S. has accused Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani network and allowing the militants safe haven in North Waziristan — allegations denied by Islamabad. Washington has repeatedly called on Pakistan to attack the Haqqanis, or at least prevent them from carrying out cross-border raids, but Pakistan has refused.

In response, the Obama administration has significantly ramped up the number of drone attacks against militants in North Waziristan. The U.S. refuses to acknowledge the CIA-run program publicly, but officials have said privately that the strikes have killed many senior militant commanders.

The Haqqani network is allied with the Taliban but operates largely independently. It has been blamed for many high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, including one in September against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Adm. Mike Mullen, who was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff until very recently, accused Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the ISI, of helping the Haqqanis carry out the embassy attack. He called the group a "veritable arm" of the ISI, stoking outrage among Pakistani officials.

Other senior U.S. officials have used softer language, but have still increased the pressure on Pakistan. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a recent trip to Islamabad to enlist greater Pakistani cooperation but seemingly achieved little.

The Haqqani network was founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the most prominent commanders who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He was supported by both the ISI and the CIA at the time. The group is now led on a day-to-day basis by his son, Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Many analysts believe Pakistan has continued its support for the Haqqanis because they are viewed as key potential allies in Afghanistan once foreign forces withdraw, especially in countering the influence of Pakistan’s archenemy, India.

Pakistan has denied these claims and said the reason it hasn’t targeted the group is because its troops are stretched too thin by operations in other parts of the tribal region against the Pakistani Taliban. Unlike the Haqqanis, this group has declared war on the Pakistani state and has carried out attacks throughout the country.

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