Pakistan drone war takes a toll on militants — and civilians

<div data-recalc-dims=Afghan police rush to the site of a Taliban attack on a hotel in Kabul on Wednesday.

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The Obama administration has dramatically ratcheted up the American drone warfare program in Pakistan. Since President Obama took office, U.S. drone strikes have killed about a half-dozen militant leaders along with hundreds of other people, a quarter of whom were civilians.

Ban said he was assured by Kai Eide, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had instructed his Interior Ministry to strengthen security, and he said the United Nations would do likewise — in Kabul as well as elsewhere in the country. “We will, of course, review our security procedures, as we do regularly for the Afghanistan mission as a whole. We will take all necessary measures to protect our staff,” Ban said. In the strike, weapons fire and explosions pounded the heart of the capital starting about 6 a.m. local time. The fighting began as sporadic gunfire, but intensified over time, lasting more than an hour. The attack took place in a relatively secure section of the capital, in the vicinity of a number of government buildings. The firefight, which included machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, appeared to be concentrated near the guesthouse. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying on an insurgent Web site that three militants had killed 50 foreigners, who were election organizers. The claim could not be independently confirmed. Officials said three militants were killed. International troop levels increased this year, to provide security for the Afghan election in August, and the United States is considering deploying more troops.