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32 Pakistanis dead in aerial attacks

Most of those killed in missile strikes and military helicopter fire are said to be militants.

November 15, 2008|Associated Press

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — Suspected U.S. missiles killed 12 people Friday in northwestern Pakistan, and Pakistani troops in attack helicopters killed 20 insurgents.

Several of the dead in the missile strike near the border with Afghanistan were foreign militants, intelligence officials said.

The United States is thought to have launched 19 missiles from drone aircraft based in Afghanistan since mid-August, killing scores of suspected extremists but angering the Pakistani government.

The attacks are aimed at Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders hiding in the region who are blamed for rising violence in neighboring Afghanistan.

Under fire from the missile strikes and a Pakistani offensive, the militants have hit back with suicide bombings, abductions and assassinations.

About 12 miles from Peshawar, Pakistani army troops in helicopters killed 20 alleged militants in several villages, city police chief Mohammed Suleman said.

In Peshawar, Japanese journalist Motoki Yotsukura, with the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, an Afghan colleague and their Pakistani driver were injured when an assailant fired on their car, police said. None of the injuries was life-threatening.

"Three armed men intercepted our car, and one of them aimed his pistol at me," said the Afghan, Sami Yousufzai, from a hospital. "He opened fire when I put up resistance. I got a bullet in my hand."

It was the third attack on a foreigner in the city in three days, police said.

An Iranian diplomat was abducted and his bodyguard was killed Thursday, a day after a U.S. aid worker and his driver were ambushed and slain.

Canada's foreign affairs department, meanwhile, confirmed that a Canadian woman had been abducted in Pakistan but refused to identify her.

Canadian newspapers have reported that Beverly Giesbrecht, 52, of Vancouver was on a freelance reporting assignment when she was kidnapped Tuesday in northern Pakistan.

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