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Report: Drone crash triggers clash

Sept. 19, 2011 at 1:40 AM   |   Comments

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. drone crashed in South Waziristan, setting off a clash between the Taliban and security forces over the wreckage, Pakistani security officials said.

It was not clear what caused the unmanned Predator aircraft to go down in the tribal region Sunday but the Pakistani Taliban said they had shot it down, The Washington Post reported.

A military intelligence official in the nearby city of Wana blamed it on mechanical failure.

The Post quoted two Pakistani security officials as saying the aircraft crashed near a military base and that Taliban militants attempted to seize the wreckage.

However, the officials said Pakistani troops managed to take control of the plane's remnants after fighting the militants for about 4 hours.Three militants died and two soldiers were injured in the skirmish.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told the Post by telephone that his fighters used an anti-aircraft gun to bring down the drone and that the Pakistani army used a gunship helicopter to drive away the Taliban.

Missiles fired by the unmanned Predator are among those used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to target the Taliban and al-Qaida hideouts in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, the Post said. The CIA declined comment on the reports about the drone's crash.

Separately, the Post said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week warned the United States will not allow continuing attacks on American forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan-based insurgents such as the violent Haqqani network.

John Pike, a weapons expert at Globalsecurity.org, told the Post it would be difficult for anyone, including China, to use any of the wreckage from the crashed drone to copy its stealth technology.

"I don't think the Chinese can do much more with it than the Taliban," Pike said.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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