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June 12, 2014

After lull, US drone strikes kill 13 in Pakistan

(Continued)

ISLAMABAD —

"We have also been hearing some names coming from our field agents, but we don't have any confirmation so far," said one of the officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The Haqqani network is believed to carry out operations against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from bases in North Waziristan and is considered one of the more lethal groups operating in Afghanistan. They are also believed to have been the organization holding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American prisoner of war recently released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held by the U.S.

Due to stricter rules on the use of drones, diplomatic sensitivities and the changing nature of the al-Qaida threat, the number of American drone strikes had dwindled. The strikes Wednesday and Thursday were the first since Christmas, and even before that, the number of strikes every year had been steadily dropping.

The Pakistani government and military are believed to have supported the drone strikes to a degree in the past but in recent years have become more vocal in their opposition. The strikes are extremely controversial in Pakistan, where many people consider them a violation of the country's sovereignty.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani court on Thursday struck down a government order barring former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who faces treason charges, from leaving the country. The government can still appeal.

The ruling by the Karachi court could pave the way for the man who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade to leave the country after an embarrassing trial that saw him become the first chief of army staff to face treason charges.

It also puts the Pakistani government, whose decision to push for Musharraf's trial put it at odds with the powerful military, in a tricky position where it must decide whether it wants to further anger the military by trying to keep Musharraf from leaving the country.

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