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U.N. warns against extrajudicial killings

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The use of unnamed drones and raids into countries not parties to war, like Yemen and Pakistan, are problematic, a U.N. expert on extrajudicial killings said.

Christof Heyns, the U.N. special envoy on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, told the U.N. General Assembly there were troubling trends emerging in counter-terrorism operations, where some conflicts know no borders.

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He said the use of unmanned drones to strike targets in Yemen and Pakistan was problematic.

"International standards provide adequate room for states to pursue their legitimate security interests, both at home and abroad," he said. "Abusing them to meet short-term needs, especially in counter-terrorism operations, could do long-term damage to the protection of human rights."

U.S.-Pakistani relations soured in May when a team of U.S. Navy SEALs stormed a compound in Pakistan and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. That raid raised legal questions as the countries aren't at war with each other.

In Yemen, a suspected CIA drone killed U.S.-born al-Qaida ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki last month as he traveled in a region of the country known to be sympathetic to al-Qaida.

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"The use of such methods by some states to eliminate opponents in countries around the world raises the question why other states should not engage in the same practices," said Heyns. "The danger is one of a global war without borders, in which no one is safe."

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