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U.S. Kills as many as 80 people in Pakistan   :      Information Clearing House: ICH

By Xinhua

March 18, 2011 "Xinhua" -- The death toll has kept rising as more information came in from the remote area with inadequate communication facilities. Some local media reports said the target of the U.S. drones is a house at a village in the Datta Khel area in which a meeting was being held by local Taliban militants while others reported that the target was actually a tribal "jirga" or council of elders to resolve dispute over the ownership of minerals in the mountains in North Waziristan tribal region.

According to a tribal elder who asked to remain anonymous in a telephone interview from Miranshah, center of North Waziristan, the tribesmen from Madda Khel tribe were holding a meeting at Nawai Adda area, some 25 kilometers from Miranshah, when two U.S. drones fired four missiles at the participants of the tribal council at 11:30 am (local time)

The elder said that the strike killed 41 people including six tribal elders and some children.

The injured were later transferred to the hospital in Miranshah and some of them were in critical condition, said hospital sources.

The tribal elder rejected the reports that the target was a meeting held by militants. He said that all were local tribesmen. He said that the Madda Khel tribe had sold a chromite mine on 8.8 million rupees (slightly over 100,000 US dollars) to a man and both parties later disagreed over the payment method and the jirga was called to settle the dispute.

Member of National Assembly from the region, Kamran Khan, condemned the drone strike and said that mostly innocent people were killed and injured in the Thursday's strike.

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